A Taste of Torah – Parshas Chayei Sara

Written by: Rabbi Avrohom S. Moller

Spare No Effort

In this week’s Parsha, the Torah describes Avrohom Avinu’s trusted servant Eliezer’s quest to find a suitable wife for Avrohom’s successor, Yitzchak Avinu. He goes to Aram Naharayyim and meets Rivkah at the well. He runs toward her after he sees her filling her jug and asks her for water. She responds by offering him water and also to water his camels. Rashi, quoting the Midrash, explains that Eliezer ran toward her because he was excited to see that the water rose toward her and she filled her jug with a minimum of effort. This fact is derived from the difference in the language describing her filling her personal jug, where it says ותמלא- she filled, in contrast to her watering the camels, which is described as ותשאב- she drew, implying that she had to lower her pail to the water.

The question is that if Rivkah was so righteous that the water rose to spare her extra effort when she came to the well, why didn’t it rise as she rushed to fill the trough with hundreds of gallons of water for the 10 camels?

Rabbi Levy Yitzchok of Berditchev (18th Century Chassidic master) explains that the righteous are granted favors in this world when pursuing their needs in this world. However, when they are doing Hashem’s work, they prefer that they exert the maximum effort to accomplish these tasks. This is supported by the Mishna in Avos – לפום צערא אגרא- The payment is commensurate with the difficulty.

Therefore, it would not have been a favor for Rivka to make the water rise while she did the chesed of watering Eliezer’s camels.