A portion of the Tora-portion of this week:
Isaac and Rebecca endure twenty childless years, until their prayers are answered and Rebecca conceives. She experiences a difficult pregnancy as the “children struggle inside her”; G‑d tells her that “there are two nations in your womb,” and that the younger will prevail over the elder.
וַיֶּעְתַּ֨ר יִצְחָ֤ק לַֽיהֹוָה֙ לְנֹ֣כַח אִשְׁתּ֔וֹ כִּ֥י עֲקָרָ֖ה הִ֑וא וַיֵּעָ֤תֶר לוֹ֙ יְהֹוָ֔ה וַתַּ֖הַר רִבְקָ֥ה אִשְׁתּֽוֹ׃
“Isaac pleaded with HaShem on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and HaShem responded to his plea, and his wife Rebekah conceived.”(Genesis 25:21)
Why did G-d not answer Rebeca's prayer, after all, she was a very righteous woman. Because although her father and brother were steeped in idol worship and immorality, she remained unaffected. More than that, she know how to overcome the negative surrounding and background, it strengthened her to realize the bankruptcy and valuelessness of a G‑dless, immoral way of life, and attain great heights despite them. She really appreciate the beauty of a true and G‑d-fearing life.
This live in a household of worship and immorality reinforced her attribute of Bina/ understanding. Like no other, she had the awareness and understanding of what was right and wrong. She knew whether people were right or wrong and understood their needs before people specifically asked her.
This Bina/ understanding filled her with a flood of chessed/ kindness.We see this in the story at the well. Elijah asked her to tilt her jug so that he could drink. By doing so, he indicated that he was unable to water himself and indirectly, by doing so, he also indicated that he was unable to water the camels. Rebecca could have watered only him, but she saw Eliezer's deeper needs and also watered the camels.
This woman was truly worth becoming the wife of Isaac.
Rebecca not only fetched water for him, she also tirelessly filled and refilled the troughs, allowing the man’s camels to drink their fill.
This brings us back to the question of why G-d answered Isaac's prayer and not her prayer or their common prayer.
Tur HaArokh: ויעתר לו, “G- d responded to his prayer.” The emphasis on the word לו is meant to tell us that G-d did not respond to her prayer. The reason is that we have a principle that a prisoner is unable to free himself (without external help) [In this instance it was Rivkah who could not have children, hence she is comparable to someone who is handicapped, like a prisoner in a cell. Compare Sifssey Chachamim on Genesis Ed.]
Why was Rebecca as a prisoner. A answer we can find in
Chizkuni: כי עקרה היא, ‘for she was barren;” what was the reason why Rivkah up to that point had been barren? G-d did not want the gentiles to be able to credit her fertility to the blessings that her family had bestowed on her when they said: “may you become the mother of thousands and tens of thousands.”(Genesis 24,60). She therefore could not conceive until G-d responded to her husband’s prayer on her behalf.
We can be sure that Rebecca prayed to G-d as a righteous and pious woman, and yet she needed Isaac's prayer.
This can be an important teaching point for us to pray for our family members, friends and surroundings who, while praying to G-d for support, for knowledge, for insight, may unwittingly do so to an idol or intermediary. If a righteous person needed the prayers of a greater righteous person, how much more do ordinary people need the prayers of those who pray to G-d and try to live their lives as righteously as possible.
Let us pray…
Brought By Angelique Sijbolts
Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners en intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.
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