Torah Weekly

For the week ending 14 November 2009 / 26 Heshvan 5770

Parshat Chayei Sara

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Overview

Sarah, Mother of the Jewish People, passes on at age 127. After mourning and eulogizing her, Avraham seeks to bury her in the Cave of Machpela. As this is the burial place of Adam and Chava, Avraham pays its owner, Ephron the Hittite, an exorbitant sum. Avraham sends his faithful servant Eliezer to find a suitable wife for his son, Yitzchak, making him swear to choose a wife only from among Avrahams family. Eliezer travels to Aram Naharaim and prays for a sign. Providentially, Rivka appears. Eliezer asks for water. Not only does she give him water, but she draws water for all 10 of his thirsty camels. (Some 140 gallons!) This extreme kindness marks her as the right wife for Yitzchak and a suitable Mother of the Jewish People. Negotiations with Rivka's father and her brother Lavan result in her leaving with Eliezer. Yitzchak brings Rivka into his mother Sarahs tent, marries her and loves her. He is then consoled for the loss of his mother. Avraham remarries Hagar who is renamed Ketura to indicate her improved ways. Six children are born to them. After giving them gifts, Avraham sends them to the East. Avraham passes away at the age of 175 and is buried next to Sarah in the Cave of Machpela.

Insights

Waterwork

“She descended to the spring, filled her jug and ascended. The servant ran towards her….” (24:16,17)

Sometimes when we go to do a mitzvah, all kinds of things seem to make it more difficult. Why is that?

In this week’s Torah portion Rashi explains that Eliezer ran to Rivka when he saw the water level rise as she came to water her camels.

The Ramban infers that the water rose by itself, because in verse 20, when Rivka waters Eliezer’s camels, the Torah mentions that Rivka ‘drew the waters’, whereas when watering her own camels, the verse doesn’t mention that she had to draw water, meaning that the extra effort of drawing the water was not required because the water came to her.

The question remains, however, why didn’t the waters rise to Rivka when she went to water Eliezer’s camels? Moreover, if Rivka merited supernatural help when watering her own camels, surely she should merit no less when doing a mitzvah?

When a person does a mitzvah, G-d helps him or her to do the mitzvah in the best possible way. When Rivka went to water her camels, the water rose up to spare her the extra effort, but when she went to water Eliezer’s camels she did this with the intention to do the mitzvah of gemilut chasadim – performing an act of kindness. If G-d had brought up the water to meet her, this would have minimized her own involvement in the mitzvah.

G-d wanted Rivka’s physical action to be as complete as the intention of her heart.

  • Source: Based on Mayana Shel Torah

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