Parshas Chayei Sarah

Rabbi Gidon Goldberg's picture

Dear Parents,
This past week I had a very successful but cold visit to “Snowy Toronto,” with the opportunity to see many donors and friends of Providence Hebrew Day School. I attended the chasunah of Yehudis Zlotnick and at the wedding I heard repeatedly the praise that many askonim and friends have for our school and entire school community.
I also had the opportunity to interview a young lady in ninth grade for NEAT. As I often do for potential students, I recited my list of ten two-letter magic words: If It Is To Be It Is Up To Me, pointing out that in all of learning and life we can accomplish whatever we want and achieve any goal as long as we are willing to pay the price. In a droshoh that I gave at Sholosh Seudos at Congregation Shomer Shabbos, I pointed out that we not only get reward for the support of our school but also for the long-term outcome – of the offspring of the student we helped to attend the school.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken, in his essay on Parshas Chayei Soroh, points out that Hashem taught us early on to value hard work, especially as it relates to the performance of mitzvos.
“The servant ran to meet her and said, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your jug’” (24:17). Eliezer went to the city of Nochor, to Avrohom’s family, to find a wife for Yitzchok. He asked for an omen to indicate the right woman, and Rivkah immediately came out. Why did Eliezer run to meet her? Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki explains from the Medrash: because he saw that the water rose to greet her. She was so righteous that G-d performed a little miracle for her when she merely went out to draw water. The Ramban, Nachmanides, looks for a source for this Medrash, and finds it several pesukim later. There, the posuk (24:20) says that Rivkah “drew” water from the well for Eliezer’s camels. In posuk 16, however, Rivkah merely “went down to the spring, filled her jug, and ascended.” Apparently, she did not need to draw the water the first time – and the Medrash tells us that that is correct: she did not!
The Kedushas Levi asks: Why was she required to draw water the second time? Why did the water not rise to greet her when she went to fill her jug for the camels? His answer is fascinating. When she went to the well the first time, her intent was only to fill the jug for her own needs. The water then rose to greet her in order that she not trouble herself; G-d made the world serve her. The second time, however, her intent was to perform the mitzvah of bestowing kindness on another person. She was not drawing the water for her own needs, but rather in order to fulfill the will of her Creator. The performance of a mitzvah is a holy act, not something Heaven would want to abbreviate. Therefore, the water did not rise the second time, because the effort and trouble a person goes through in order to perform a mitzvah is tremendously valuable in the eyes of Hashem.
We know that “according to the effort is the reward.” And that is what we see from this week’s parshah. Hashem did not want to make it easier for Rivkah to do the mitzvah of giving water to Eliezer’s camels, because it is the doing itself, the effort, that is so important. Often, we find ourselves thinking that a mitzvah is hard to do. We’re making a mistake – it’s not supposed to be easy! “According to the effort is the reward,” so we don’t want all our mitzvos on a silver platter!
Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman,