Parshas Chayei Sarah 2018: Talent Doesn’t Define You; You Define You
Avraham (Abraham), now at a ripe old age, realized it was time to marry off his son Yitzchak (Isaac). Avraham appointed his most trusted servant Eliezer with the tall task of finding a befitting wife for Yitzchak - the future mother the Jewish people. Avraham made Eliezer take an oath that he would not find a wife from the Canaanites, but a girl from Avraham’s birthplace.
Eliezer set out on the journey with ten camels dressed up, laden with his master’s finest and greatest possessions. Then he finally arrived at Aram Naharayim. Looking for some kind of sign that he met the right girl, Eliezer davened to Hashem for divine assistance. He asked Hashem for this to happen in the following manner: He would ask a girl at the well for a drink of water. If she replied, “Drink and I will draw water for your camels as well,” then it meant Hashem was sending him this girl. Even before Eliezer could finish his prayer his interest was piqued when a very pretty girl named Rivka arrived at the well and filled her pitcher. Instead of her drawing the water out by lowering the bucket, the water rose up and filled her pitcher - a miracle. Eliezer ran over to her and asked for a sip of water. Rivka gave Eliezer water from her pitcher and then quickly drew water for all ten of Eliezer’s camels. As it says, “When she had let him drink his fill, she said, I will also draw for your camels, until they finish drinking.” (Genesis 24:19)
By nature, camels can actually drink approximately fifty gallons of water in just under five minutes. Rivka watered ALL TEN camels! Eliezer gifted Rivka with golden jewelry and he was elated to hear she was the granddaughter of Nohar, the brother of Avraham. Eliezer thanked Hashem.
Rivka brought Eliezer back to her home and told her family about Eliezer’s journey. The family agreed to the match and Rivka travelled back to Canaan together with him to get married to Yitzchak and become the mother of our people.
The Imrei Chaim asks on this, it’s quite peculiar... Eliezer first saw a miracle happen with Rivka at the well and was only “interested”. It wasn't until she watered him and his camels that he was convinced she was the one. Why was Eliezer not impressed by the miracle? Surely if we were in his situation, an open miracle would be a huge giveaway?!
The truth is, it didn't matter what Rivka would have performed in miracles, the only thing Eliezer was looking for was her character. All miracles and all the talent people posses pale in comparison to someone with good middos (character traits).
Reb Yisroel Salanter says it’s easier for a man to learn all of shas, all thirty seven complex volumes of the Talmud in his lifetime, than change a bad middah. Middos are part of a person that is why it is so difficult to work on and change a specific bad habit or trait. Rivka displayed sterling middos.
There's a mishnah in Perkei Avos (Chapters of Our Fathers) that teaches that good middos must precede Torah knowledge. The importance of good character traits is such, that Torah knowledge does not manifest itself in one who lacks it.
Ultimately, it’s not our talents that necessarily define us as a great individual. We, our character traits, personality, and goals define our greatness. Rivka was not only great… she was perfect for Yitzchak and being the mother of the Jewish people NOT because of the miracles she could perform, but the essence of her, which was clearly demonstrated in her overwhelming care and compassion for others as Eliezer was a complete stranger!
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!
Maverick V. Peters