Parsha Chayei Sarah 5771: Rivka’s Unconditional Kindness

by Moshe Burt

This author has written often about Rivka Imeinu’s qualities of having been raised and nurtured under Lavanite societal norms of deceit, cheating, conniving and stealing. We learn that Rivka rose above
these norms and was straight, honest, yet knew how to employ deceit for the good and right as with Yaakov, Eisev and Yitzchak’s Bracha.

But there is another side to Rivka Imeinu — the attribute of unconditional kindness. In speaking countless times about The Sefer Torah Recycling Network got its start, I tell how 16 years ago while speaking to a Rabbi back in Philadelphia about an event attended the night before where 2 people approached me about a town in Eretz Yisrael which needed a Sefer Torah and how my response was “no promises but will see what can be done.” As I told related this story, the Rabbi stopped me in mid-sentence saying, as with Eliezer and Rivka of our Parsha:

Before Eliezer had finished praying, Rivka… already came out (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 24, posuk 15),

“Moshe, I may have a Sefer Torah for you.” A few months later, that Sefer Torah resided in the town in Eretz Yisrael.

Rivka’s kindness in giving Avraham Aveinu’s servant Eliezer his fill of water and in giving Eliezer’s camels water while Eliezer was in mid-tefillah (tefillah = prayer) that Yitzchak’s shidduch — the next Ima of B’nei Yisrael — possess this very attribute of unconditional kindness seemed the paradigm parallel for my Sefer Torah story.

Rivka didn’t frivolously pass by Eliezer and his camels and turn the other way or pass on her way, as would many young children, or young people. And Rivka’s kindness toward Eliezer and his camels was not driven by any ulterior motive — i.e. money and riches, pretty things, what she might receive in return. Rivka was driven by one thing alone in providing water for Eliezer and his camels — unconditional kindness to another human being.

What a pity that today, Jews who act with such unconditional kindness toward another Jew, toward fellow Jews, toward pained Jewish families, toward Jews who have suffered and been victimized by physical and mental abuse, theft, criminal activities, etc. can be seen by some, by distorted minds, as having untoward, unseemly ulterior motivations.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to stand up as one to prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem, Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.