The Living Torah is a weekly publication distributed in and around North West London. Written by members of Hasmonean High School's Sixth Form programme - we aim to bring you divrei torah for your Shabbat table each and everyweek.

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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Rivka's Intentions

“ וַיִּקְרְאוּ לְרִּבְקָה וַיאמְרוּ אֵלֶיהָ הֲתֵלְכי עם - הָאִּישׁ הַזֶה; וַתּאמֶר אֵלֵךְ ”
“And they called to Rivka and said to her, ''Will you go with this man?'' And she said, ''I will go.''

The Midrash [Yalkut Tehillim 795] says that Hashem took Israel out of Egypt as a reward for the deeds of the Imahot: Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah. For each of the Imahot, it men-tions a great deed that she did, and when it comes to Rivka, it says because she said, ''I will go''. (See pasuk above). The Divrei Yoel asks what the connection is between Rivka's willingness to go to marry Yitzchak and the Exodus from Egypt?

On the words ''I will go'', Rashi comments, ''On my own, even if you do not want''. Lavan was willing to let Rivka go; he had already told Eliezer ''We cannot speak to you evil or good. Behold, Rivka is before you, take her and go, and let her be a wife to your master's son, as Hashem spoke.'' But Rivka realized that when a wicked man gives something or accomplishes something, he has a certain power over it. When one receives a gift from another, he becomes obliged to the giver. Rivka's marriage to Yitzchak was destined to give rise to the entire Jewish people. She did not want Lavan to play any role in this great accomplishment. Therefore, Rivka said. 'I want to go on my own, even if you don't want me to''.

In this vein, we can explain the words at the beginning of the Haggadah, ''If the Holy One, blessed is He, had not taken our fathers from Egypt , we and our children's children would be enslaved [meshubadim] to Pharaoh in Egypt''. Seemingly, says the Divrei Yoel, this is obvious. Who would have taken us out if not Hashem? But the answer is that after suffering through the first five plagues, Pharaoh would have let the Jewish people go, if Hashem had not hardened his heart during the sixth plague. The reason that Hashem hardened his heart is that He did not want the wicked Pharaoh to have any hand in the great beginning of our holy people. Hashem made sure that we left not through Pharaoh's graciousness, but ''with a strong hand'', against Pharaoh's will. ''If the Holy One, blessed is He, had not taken our fathers out'' i.e. had He allowed Pharaoh to be the one to let us out then we would be ''meshubadim''- obliged, grateful, under the influence of Pharaoh, even today.

Thus, the Midrash tells us that in reward for Rivka's concern that Lavan should not have a hand in creating the Jewish people, Hashem made sure that Pharaoh did not have a hand in the Exodus from Egypt; rather, Hashem Himself took us out with a strong hand.

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