It’s parashat Chayei Sarah,and Eliezer, Abraham’s trusted servant, has been sent on a mission to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham sent Eliezer back to the old country to find a nice wife for Isaac, so he did.
Isaac, you may remember, survived the near – fatal attack on his life by his father, and his mother just died. He had issues. Who’d want to marry a guy like that? Someone willing to take on some serious relationship trust baggage. Someone who was willing to take a chance, take on some risk. Rebecca.
After their encounter at the local well (the ancient J-Date site) Eliezer followed Rebecca back to her house where she told her family about this guy who wanted to bring her back to marry a guy she’s never met. Eliezer corroborated her story, and her mother and brother Laban said, sure, take her, but can you let her stay for ten days first? Eliezer said no, we have to leave now.
“Let us call the girl and see what she has to say. So they called Rebecca and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, I will go.” (Gen 24:57-58)
See? She’s got spunk.
A couple of chapters ago, Abraham heard from God, “Lech L’cha” – go to a place I will show you. He had no idea what was head, but he gathered up his family and went out into the wilderness on a promise and a prayer. Rebecca was presented with her own “lech l’cha” except no one told her to go. She offered, she said “elech” I will go. Without the urging from God, Abraham probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere. Rebecca? She was a “go” waiting to happen, and I think if Eliezer hadn’t come along, she might have gone anyway. She had no more idea of what she was heading into than Abraham and Sarah did, but she was willing to go out and meet what would come to her, too. In fact, she had even more spirit, I think, because she saw an opportunity and took it, instead of waiting for some voice to tell her what to do. She saw a chance, and grabbed it.
Later in her life, Rebecca showed even more resourcefulness than what she demonstrated here. Soon, she will get a prophecy from God about two sons, twins, and they will fight and the younger will be over the older. Rebecca will take it upon herself to make sure that prophecy comes true, and it will be at great cost. I like Rebecca’s model. I always think of her as that “get the next bus out of town” kind of girl. She was ready for the adventure. She would have been that girl on a wagon train, heading west. Not me. I’d have been the person in St. Louis, selling her supplies for the trip, but not tempted to go out there myself. Until it was settled, that is. Then I’ll come visit.
What kind of voice told Rebecca to grab this chance to leave? Midrash speaks of her knowing that she had a destiny to fulfill, keeping Abraham’s line going through Isaac. But we don’t always get that kind of huge hint when we’re faced with decisions. At least, I don’t.
How do we know when it’s right to reach for and latch onto that opportunity? How do you recognize it? What gets whispered in our ears, or our souls, that makes us go? How can we be prepared for what that journey will be like? These are not rhetorical questions; I really have no idea. Do you? Let me know…comment back, I’ll share some during the week.