Last week's reading was Chayei Sarah, which is an account of Abraham's life after his wife Sarah dies after the near-sacrifice of Isaac. It is often understood that it was Abraham's willingness to kill their son that caused Sarah to lose her will to live.
And what does Abraham do at this point? Well, coming face to face with mortality in his immediate family, he realizes that he must provide for the next generation, and seeks a wife for Isaac. Rebekah distinguishes herself by not only offering Eliezer water, but taking the extra effort to draw as much water as necessary to take care of his camels. It is this going beyond the basic requirements that makes her worthy of her role in Jewish history. I was impressed to see this message right after speaking to my own children about the need to learn to take initiative to help out before being asked. Timely Torah!
|24:18||'Drink, Sir,' she replied. She quickly lowered her jug to her hand and gave him a drink.
Vatomer sheteh adoni vatemaher vatored kadah al-yadah vatashkehu.
|24:19||When he had finished drinking, she said, 'Let me draw water for your camels, so they can [also] drink their fill.'
Vatechal lehashkoto vatomer gam ligmaleycha esh'av ad im-kilu lishtot.
It is also the message we need to hear when faced with human needs. Whether it is victims of a hurricane or of unenlightened social systems, we must fight our natural tendency to let someone else deal with it. Let us, like Rebekah, draw water for the stranger's camels, until they have drunk their fill.