Taste of Parasha
How did the act of drawing water from the well demonstrate that Rivka was worthy of being a matriarch of the Jewish nation? What can we learn from her act of kindness about what it takes to be a good Jew? The Bais Halevi sees in the way Rivka provided the water for Eliezer an example, of how Chesed should be done: With fore-thought and sensitivity to the feelings of the recipient. Not only did she give this stranger water directly from her jug but she was careful that he should not feel insulted by her spilling out the remaining water from the jug. That is why she poured it into the camels’ trough. She showed an even greater level of kindness and sensitivity by continuing to provide water for all of the camels so that Eliezer should not get wind of the fact that she spilled out his leftover water out of fear of his germs. Rav Meir Robman Zt”l adds that by running to and fro so expeditiously to provide for all of the men and all of the camels, she showed that she had a good heart. In Pirkei Avos, Rabbi Yochanan taught that a good heart, a “lev tov,” is the best attribute because it is the basis for all positive qualities.
A person with a good heart is always looking to see the good in others and therefore will be a good friend and a good neighbor. The question we must ask ourselves still, is: Does the fact that a person is kind to others have an effect on his belief and service of G-d? Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, Zt”l, answers with an emphatic, “Yes.” He explains that the attribute of giving is actually indicative of the fact that a person has moved beyond living in a self-centered world to living in a Theo-centric world. Only when a person gives enthusiastically to others do we know that all of his service is not just for his self-aggrandizement, be it in this world, OR the next. By giving to others, a person shows his awareness that there is a lot more to life than the pursuit of his personal pleasure. A person who can give with sensitivity and to the degree that Rivka gave is truly a person who is aware of G-d. Rav Dessler concludes: Only through emulating G-d, by providing for others, are we able to understand G-d, the Ultimate Provider.
Taste of Talmud and Halacha
Avraham Avinu said to Efron, “I have given you the money for the field, ‘take’ it from me” (Genesis 23:13). In regards to marriage, the Torah uses the same term, “when a man ‘takes’ a woman to be his wife…” (Deut. 24:5). The Talmud (Kiddushin 4b) derives from this similar word usage that a man and woman may use money to create the marriage bond called Kiddushin. The Talmud asks: What added laws are derived from the fact that we learn this law from Avraham’s acquisition of the cave of the Patriarchs (Mearas Hamachpaila)? The Talmud answers: We learn from here, that just as Avraham was the one making the acquisition, so too, when kiddushin is done with money, the man must be the one to say, “Harei at mekudeshes li.” There is another lesson that we can learn from this connection. Just like Avraham Avinu and Efron both thought that they were getting the better end of the deal, so too, both the husband and wife should always focus on the good in each other and feel that they are the ones who got the better end of the deal. In order for a marriage to work, both partners have to learn to be givers.