Avraham sent his servant (known in the midrash as Eliezer) to find a wife for his son, Yitzchak. Eliezer brought gifts with him (Breisheet 24:22):
When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose ring, weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets for her arms, weighing ten gold shekel.
The nose ring and the two bracelets were not the only gifts that Eliezer brought. Once they got back to her house and Eliezer met Rivka’s parents and her brother, he brought out more gifts (Breisheet 24:53):
The servant took out articles of silver, articles of gold and garments, and gave them to Rivka. To her brother and mother he gave “migdanot”.
What are migdanot?
Breisheet Raba 60:11 explains that the word “migdanot” comes from the word “megadim”, sweet fruits that the soul is drawn to. In other words, fruits from the Land of Israel. Which types of fruits were these?
According to Rav Huna, they were “koonabei”, fruits that were cooked in honey or sugar.
The rabbis interpreted “megadim” to be parched ears of corn as well as nuts, both of which keep well for a long journey.
Why was “migdanot” mentioned last? Was the food that he brought more important than silver, gold and garments?
The Torah teaches here that practically speaking, if someone sets out on a trip without enough food, they will suffer.
Similarly, we find that before the exodus from Egypt God told Moshe (Shmot 3:22):
Every woman shall borrow from her neighbour and from the woman living in her house, articles of silver and gold and clothing. You shall put them on your sons and daughters…
Does this mean that clothing was more important than the silver and gold since it was mentioned last?
If a person sets out on a journey without proper clothing, they will suffer whether it is by freezing if it is too cold or sweating if it is too hot.
We find this concept in Ezra 1:6 as well, when B’nai Yisrael returned from the exile at the time of the Second Temple:
And their neighbours supported them with vessels of silver, gold, supplies, beasts of burden and “migdanot”…
We see from here that packing food for a journey proves more valuable than silver and gold and proper clothing comes in a close second.
When the soldiers were called up for miluim last month, they went with the clothing on their backs. Some didn’t even have a uniform with them. Arrangements later had to be made to get them the clothing and uniforms that they needed. The soldiers didn’t even have a chance to take food with them and the army had not yet made arrangements for proper meals. All of Israel took over, sending non perishable snacks as well as sandwiches, hot meals and even barbeques in order to make sure that the soldiers were taken care of.
At the end of the day, food that will last for the journey and functional clothing that is appropriate for the climate are more important than fancy jewelry.
May we return to the days when we can peacefully travel around Israel and enjoy all of the beauty that the land has to offer, while carrying lunch and a sweater in our backpacks.