When the time came for our forefather Yitzchok to get married, his father Avraham entrusted his faithful servant Eliezer with the task of finding him a wife. Avraham detailed the criteria for a suitable wife for Yitzchok.
Avraham’s first choice was that the girl comes from Avraham’s father’s family who resided in the land of Charan, which was out of Israel. Eliezer was dispatched because since Yitzchok had been placed on the altar and rendered as a sacrifice, he was not allowed to step out of the sanctified Land of Israel, and Avraham was too old to travel.
A number of miracles occurred during Eliezer’s trip. Firstly, G-d miraculously sped up their journey and he and his entourage arrived in Charan on the very day they left Israel.
At the outskirts of Charan, Eliezer noticed a girl at a well where the water miraculously rose up without her having to draw it from below.
Observing this miracle was not enough for Eliezer to seal the deal until he asked Rivka if she would be so kind as to draw some water for him. Rivka agreed and then offered to draw water even for the ten camels that were with Eliezer. Interestingly, the miracle of the water rising toward Rivka only occurred when she drew water for her own needs, however, when she drew for Eliezer and the camels, the water did not rise on its own – and she had to exert much effort for her deed.
After Rivka displayed her giving nature, Eliezer was convinced that she was indeed intended for Yitzchok, for her kind heart would fit perfectly in the house of Avraham.
The Torah details the gifts that Eliezer gave to Rivka; a nose ring that weighed a Beka, two bracelets that weighed 10 shekels of gold.
Rashi explains that these gifts had significance. The nose ring that weighed a Beka – was a hint to the Beka weight of the yearly half Shekel the Jews would be obligated to give to the Temple to cover the costs of the communal offerings.
The two bracelets that weighed ten gold coins were a hint to the two tablets that contained the Ten Commandments.
The Maharal of Prague explains why the half Shekel and the Ten Commandments were specifically highlighted to Rivka. Each of our three forefathers represented a pillar on which the world rests. Avraham represented Chesed – kindness, which Rivka displayed. Yitzchok represented service and offerings to G-d, which was represented by the Beka weight of the nose ring. Yaacov is described as the man who dwelled in the tent of Torah, which is represented by the bracelets which alluded to the Ten Commandments.
Eliezer’s gifts hinted to Rivka that in addition to the trait of kindness she demonstrated, she would also be responsible to encourage her husband Yitzchok in service to G-d, and to invest and support her son Yaacov in his unique mission of Torah study.
It is amazing that although Rivka was raised in the home of idolaters, she was able to maintain a righteous lifestyle and wasn’t affected negatively by her father Besuel or her brother Lavan.
Commentators point out that Avraham was well aware of the bad qualities of Rivka’s parent’s home, but their home retained good character traits which Avraham was looking for in a mate for his son.
Rivka’s departure from her home wasn’t without incident. Her father Besuel tried to poison Eliezer’s food but an angel switched the plates, and Besuel died. Surprisingly, Rivka’s wicked brother Lavan, who would eventually become the difficult father in law of Yaacov, was quick to express, “This match is the working of G-d.”
Lavan at this point supported Rivka’s marriage to Yitzchok, but eventually he became a menace to Yaacov and his grandchildren, even wishing to kill them. What caused Lavan to change?
The Shem Mishmuel offers a profound explanation. Lavan at this point was not yet married and he had within him the potential to produce the Neshamos – souls – of the righteous Rachel and Leah. This potential he carried, gave him the clarity not to stop Rivka from traveling to marry Yitzchok.
However, once Lavan bore Rachel and Leah, their holiness left him and he became as wicked as they come.
This idea of the Shem Mishmuel can inspire and encourage us, for if we take pause and reflect that we are all directly linked to our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaacov, we will realize that we all have a touch of the Kedusha – holiness, spiritual drive, wonderful virtues and qualities that they each excelled in. This imprint never leaves us – it’s to be cultivated and devotedly passed on and shared with the next generation.
There are times when we become spiritually re-activated by a spontaneous spark that has lain dormant; this reminds us that we are always connected to our roots!