(Torah Portion Chayai Sarah ) Nose Rings and Bracelets!
The Torah relates that our forefather Avraham sent his faithful servant Eliezer from the Land of Israel to his homeland in Charan to find a suitable wife for his son Yitzchok from his family.
Yitzchok was not allowed to leave the holy land of Israel because he was considered holy after he was sanctified as a sacrifice when his father bound him on the Altar, and Avraham was too old to travel, so he chose Eliezer as his messenger. Although the distance between Israel and Charan which is in northwestern Iraq is quite far, Eliezer and his entourage miraculously made it in one day!
Eliezer, who knew firsthand the wonderful virtues of Avraham’s family, prayed that G-d give him a sign as to who would be the right girl for Yitzchok.
Eliezer’s prayers were immediately answered. The Torah relates that Rivkah, a great niece of Avraham, was drawing water from a well outside the city when Eliezer approached and he asked her to draw some water for him. She immediately acquiesced and performed the Chesed, and she then offered to draw water for all ten camels in Eliezer’s caravan!
Eliezer was so certain that Rivkah was Yitzchok’s ‘Bashert’ that he immediately gave her “a golden nose ring whose weight was a Beka and placed two bracelets on her arms which weighed ten gold shekels.”
Everything that Eliezer performed had a deeper significance. Our Sages teach us the significance of the nose ring’s weight of a Beka alluded to the weight of the communal yearly half Shekel tax to the Temple’s treasury. The two bracelets that weighed ten gold shekels represented the two tablets onto which the Ten Commandments were engraved.
The Maharal of Prague o.b.m. explains further: The Mishna in Ethics of our Fathers teaches us that the world stands and exists upon three things: Torah, Service to G-d, and acts of loving kindness.
Our forefathers excelled in these three categories. Avraham was the pillar of Chesed, Yitzchok stood out for service to G-d through sacrifice and prayer, and Yaacov represents the Torah. When Eliezer witnessed Rivkah’s natural devotion to doing Chesed for strangers, he realized that she fit right into Avraham’s family.
Being aware of the additional qualities that were necessary to be partner in our forefather’s development, Eliezer gave Rivkah a nose ring whose value was rather insignificant, but the Beka weight was noteworthy since it alluded to the half Shekel donations to the Temple service which Yitzchok represented.
Eliezer then gave Rivkah two bracelets whose weight was ten golden shekels which represented the Ten Commandments and the Torah, which Yaacov epitomized.
It was integral for Rivkah to understand that by marrying Yitzchok and eventually bearing a son Yaacov she was committing herself to these three exceptional ideals.
By the way, the Gematria of the word Beka is 172, which is the exact amount of words that were engraved in the Ten Commandments.
Reb Tzodok Hakohain o.b.m. explains that the Torah calls anger Af. It is interesting that the definition of the word Af is also a nose. (i.e., flared nostrils during a fit of rage.) Eliezer specifically gave Rivkah an adornment for her nose because he noticed her special virtue of Chesed which is the antithesis of the appalling trait of anger.
The bracelets placed upon Rivka’s hands represented the Mitzvos that she would perform with her hands.
When Yitzchok and Rivkah married, the Torah relates that her presence comforted Yitzchok from the loss of his mother Sarah.
Our Sages tell us that a spiritual cloud hovered over Sarah’s tent, her flour sack never went empty nor did her bread become stale and her Shabbat candles remained lit throughout the entire week. These three miracles correspond to miracles that occurred regularly in our Holy Temple. Our Sages tell us that the tents of our matriarchs were considered like the Holy Temple – G-d’s dwelling place.
When Sarah passed away, these miracles disappeared and there was a spiritual void in Yitzchok’s life. When Rivkah joined the family, these miracles returned thus providing a place for G-d’s presence to reside and the Holy Temple was restored.
It is no surprise that our Sages tell us that today, the Shechina – G-d presence, dwells in any Jewish home which emulates the virtues of our Matriarchs and Patriarchs.
Wishing you a most enjoyable and exciting Shabbat!
Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family