"And he [Jacob] married also Rachel" (Genesis 29:30)

Our sages tell us that the patriarches observed the entire Torah although G‑d had not yet commanded it. So why did Jacob marry both Leah and Rachel, in violation of the biblical prohibition against marrying two sisters?

But Jacob had given his word to Rachel, who had waited seven years as he worked for her father to gain her hand. To refuse to marry her would have cause grievous to another human being. Since the laws of the Torah were not commanded to Israel before the revelation at Mount Sinai, Jacob had no right to uphold his self-enforced piety at the expense of another individual.

Therein lies an important lesson to each and every one of us: The Torah's laws are eternal and unequivocal - one cannot second-guess the Almighty, even in cases where their observance may appear to cause hardship and suffering. Ultimately, the Torah is the only source of life and well-being for the Jew, both spiritually and physically. Yet this applies only to what the Torah directly commands. If one wishes to go beyond the letter of the law and conduct himself with a greater degree of piety than what is mandated by the Torah, this is most laudable - so long as this affects only himself. The needs of a fellow must always be more important than his own greatest spiritual attainments.

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory

Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch issued a directive to his chassidim: Anyone who wishes to come to the center of Chabad chassidism in Lubavitch can do so only on the following condition: on his way home he must stop at every town and village, gather the local Jews, and impart to them what he had learned during his stay in Lubavitch.

Once, a young man begged to be exempted from this duty. "Rebbe," he explained, "the Almighty has blessed me with an articulate tongue. Whenever I review a discourse of chassidic teaching before a crowd, my delivery turns out exceptionally well. I feel that the satisfaction I derive from this is inflating my ego and corrupting my character."

Replied the Rebbe: "You speak as if your dilemma affects only yourself. What right do you have to deprive others because of your personal considerations? How you deal with your ego is your problem. But even if you become rotten to the core, you must continue to teach your fellow man."