Sharing Torah Insights

Even for your Camels…

Posted on כ״ט במרחשון ה׳תש״ע (November 16, 2009) | in Chayei Sarah | by

Chayei Sarah 5770

“Let it be that the maiden to whom I shall say, ‘Please tip over your jug so I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will even water your camels,’ her will You have designated for Your servant Yitzchak” (Bereishis 24:14).

Although it is clear that Rivka’s actions were to be interpreted as a sign from Hashem that she was the correct wife for Yitzchak, the Beis HaLevi shows from the verses that Rivka was genuinely being tested by Eliezer to display her kindness and astuteness. Firstly, she was tested to see if she would be gracious to a traveling stranger, letting him drink from the water that she had drawn for her own household. However, what was she to do after he drank? For all she knew the man who just drank directly from her jug of water had a dirty and diseased mouth! Even so, her attribute of kindness did not allow her to withhold the water from him. But still, says the Beis HaLevi, it would be very foolish of her to bring the potentially contaminated water home with her, behaviour clearly unbefitting a wife for Yitzchak. Yet, had she spilled out the rest of the water after he drank, it would have been a tremendous affront to Eliezer! Faced with this dilemma Rivka demonstrates her remarkable wisdom; “I will draw water even for your camels until they have finished drinking” (Verse 19). If there was a problem with the water it would not affect the camels, and by not spilling out the water she would avoid causing any embarrassment to the stranger. And lest her true intentions for allowing the camels to drink be caught on to, Rivka repeatedly draws fresh water for Eliezer’s camels until they were satiated, removing any trace of suspicion. While Sefer Bereishis is not a book of mitzvos it is definitely a book of middos (character traits). It is unrealistic for us to expect ourselves to instantly be able to act with the kindness and calculated sensitivity of Rivka Imeinu, however, we are not exempt from our obligations to strive towards her lofty example. Good Shabbos!

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