by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman
Do you ever feel a sense of oneness with others, powerfully united in a common cause to advance kindness in the world?
Avraham's partner in kindness, Sarah, had just left the world. She lit the lamps of kindness in their home. As their home was a proto-mishkan, in a sense she was the first Kohen Gadol, the High Priest who lit the lamps each day in the future Holy Temple. As in the story of Chanukah, the lamp must be kept lit. A new Holy Mother must be found to carry on her holy mission.
Yitzchak, through whom the Covenant flowed through his father Avraham, and who himself made his own Covenant with G*d, now needed a holy spouse to actively partner with him in bringing G*d's holy light into the world- literally with light, and figuratively through kindness and compassion.
Our tradition teaches that the importance of finding a worthy spouse, emblematic of the overarching qualities of kindness and compassion, is so great as to allow one to even take leave of Eretz Yisrael if need be. Indeed, Avraham instructs his worthy servant, Eliezer, to do just that. Sent on a holy mission outside the Land, he is sworn to find a worthy bride for Yitzhak, his master's son. She would be a holy bride to fill the vacuum in his soul left by his mother Sarah's passing. She would bring a shining Light of Chesed, of kindness, to restore the light and lustre, indeed the holy joy that they once knew.
But in spite of the greatness of Avraham, and the loyalty of his servant, Eliezer, the beneficiary of these efforts, Yitzhak *himself,* had to desire this. And in fact he does pray, meditating in the field towards evening, determining the aetiological basis for the mincha, or afternoon, prayer. Note the common usage of the word "erev," or evening, in our narrative.
"vayavrech hag'malim michutz la'ir el be'er hamayim Le"ET EREV, le'et tzet hashoavot...
He (Eliezer) let the camels rest on their knees outside the city, beside the well; it was at the time of evening, at the time when women go out to draw water(Gen 24:11).
Let us ask, why is the word ET (time) doubled: the" *time* of evening" and the "*time* of the going out of the water drawers?" If everybody knows that the time of drawing water is in the evening (for social reasons), then why repeat the phrase, "in the evening?" Thatwould verge on the redundant. No word in the Torah is extraneous!
The answer is in verse 63, where Yitzhak goes out to meditate in the field TOWARDS evening, i.e., *before* the evening. According to our narrative Eliezer arrives *at* the evening. As it was his wont to pray *before* the evening, the text would suggest that Yitzhak's deep prayers had a remarkable and direct efficacy. Synchronicity.
Hashem is called the "bochen levavot," the see'er of the depths of our hearts' desires. When hearts are united prayer becomes stronger. Indeed no two hearts were more united than Avraham's and Yitzhak's after the Akeidah. It was "towards evening" when the Akeidah occured (it was clearly not dark yet because Avraham "saw the ram" in the thicket), and thus was the time of Yitzhak's deepest prayers. This was forever to be the time window that was uniquely his own, the most propitious and efficacious for all his future prayers. Mincha was his special time, his window to deep experiential happenings- his own near death experience, and his time of first meeting his future bride. Some would call these one and the same (!), for one is seen as reborn upon marriage, as all one's prior sins are automatically forgiven.
So just as Yitzchak was praying for his soulmate, so too was Eliezer praying that Yitzchak's soulmate should appear. Erev is evening, but it means "mixing." In this case it is the "mixing" of light and darkness. Similarly, Areivut (ERV) means responsibility. The connection is that we- all Israel- are responsible for one another. But this idea of "erev," of the mixing of the light at eventide, the time of praying for one's soulmate, goes even deeper. Eliezer has taken a journey out of Abraham's orbit, from out of a place of pure light to a land (everywhere else) of idolatry, a place of spiritual darkness.
But suddenly here was Rivka (Rebecca) engaged in acts of kindness, of chesed, to both man and "beast" (camels). To all living things. She is a light in the darkness. She is a light mixed in with the darkness- a mixing of the light and the darkness. She *is* erev. And it is at that moment that she takes responsibility for her own kindness, when Eliezer takes responsibility for finding his master's son a soulmate, and when Yitzchak is praying for all of the above. Through prayer, cosmic forces become arrayed to synchronistically aid and abet ennobling aims.
Rivka in her own right represents the aspect of pure chesed, opposite to Isaac's antithetical gevurah, renewing Abraham and Sarah's kindness paradigm. And we should be cognizant of the fact that we, all of us, as her children, are stamped with her seal of kindness. We are known as Rachmanim B'nei Rachmanim- Merciful Ones, Children of Merciful Ones. We are Children of the Light- the Light of Sarah's Tent, but owing to the fervent simultaneous prayers of Yitzchak, Eliezer and Rivka, we are also Children of the Evening-those who take responsibility, both for the repair of our souls- our innerworld, and the repair of the cosmos- our outer world.
© 2000 - 2007 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman
These words of Torah are written in honor of the memory of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Yaakov Hakohen Melman, z"l.
Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua (a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
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