Rivka’s Prophecies

Rivka is a very confident woman. In Parshat Chayei Sarah, we see her confidence when giving water to a stranger and his ten camels, inviting him and his camels to stay over at her family’s home, following him to meet Yitzchak and knowing right away that Yitzchak is “the one” for her. In Parshat Toldot, she is confident in telling Yaakov to deceive his father and take Esav’s blessing as well as when she tells Yitzchak that Yaakov must find a wife in Padan Aram (where her family lives).

Rivka’s confidence came from the fact that she was a prophetess.

For twenty years Rivka was unable to conceive. She is finally expecting and is having a very difficult pregnancy but doesn’t understand why. In Breisheet 25:22 “She went to inquire (lidrosh) of God”. According to Ramban, “lidrosh” is used in the context of prayer. She went to pray to God. His answer is in sentence 23: “God said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb and two Kingdoms will separate from within you. One government will be mightier than the other but the greater one will serve the smaller one.’”

This is clearly a prophecy of what is yet to come.

When Rivka sees that Esav chooses the dangerous profession of a hunter and marries Cnaanite women who are a source of spiritual bitterness (26:35) she knows that the prophecy is being fulfilled and that Esav is not destined be the inheritor of the Land of Israel or the father of the Jewish nation. Esav, the older son is destined to serve Yaakov, the younger son.

Rivka is confident in carrying out her plan to make sure that Yaakov receives the blessing of the firstborn even if deception has to be used. Rivka tells Yaakov three times (27:8, 13, 43) to listen to her voice (Shma bikoli). Rashi comments that when God told Avraham to listen to Sarah’s voice, he was referring to the voice of prophecy as Sarah was on a higher level of prophecy than Avraham. It is clear from here as well that Rivka was working from a prophecy that Yitzchak had not been exposed to.

Midrash Tanchuma, Toldot 8 states that when Esav married Cnaanite women, Yitzchak no longer received prophecy as he grew up in a pure home and never confronted idol worship before.  Rivka however continued to receive prophecy (as she was raised in a home of idol worship so it had no effect on her).

After Esav found out that Yaakov tricked his father and took his blessing we read: 27:41-42: “Esav hated Yaakov because of the blessing with which his father blessed him. Esav said in his heart, ‘The mourning days for my father are approaching. I will then kill my brother Yaakov.’ Rivka was informed about these words of Esav, her oldest son and she sent a messenger to call Yaakov, her younger son and she said to him: ‘Behold, your brother Esav is consoled through you for he intends to kill you.’”

Breisheet Rabba explains that through prophecy (Ruach HaKodesh) Rivka was informed of what Esav said in his heart. How else could she possibly know what he said in his heart?

According to Breisheet Rabba, all of the Imahot (foremothers) were prophetesses.

Rivka was driven by her prophecies and was therefore confident with her actions even when they seemed out of the ordinary. She tried to shelter Yitzchak as much as possible from Esav’s wickedness. While she told Yaakov: 27:43: “Now my son, listen to me. Get up and flee to Lavan, my brother, to Charan”, all she tells Yitzchak is “I am disgusted with my life because of the daughters of Chet. If Yaakov marries a woman of Chet like these, from the daughters of the land, what is life worth to me”, in other words Yaakov needs to leave town because he needs to find a wife in Padan Aram. She doesn’t have the heart to tell Yitzchak that Esav plans to kill Yaakov and therefore he needs to run away.

Rivka did not gloat to Yitzchak about the prophecies that she received. She actually kept them a secret from him. She learned from her prophecies and from her life experience what needed to be done in order to insure proper continuity. Yitzchak had never been exposed to the cruel outside world that Rivka came from and she did her best to keep him as sheltered from it as much as possible.

May we all have the confidence that Rivka had to do what we know is right.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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