Unveiling Rivkah

When Rivkah sees Yitzchak for the first time she falls off her camel and covers herself with her veil. The Netziv explains that she felt embarrassed and unworthy upon seeing this great man. Yitzchak was in the midst of praying and must have exuded an aura of holiness.  On some level,  she felt undeserving of such a man and thus covered herself. This, I believe, is critical in understanding the relationship between her and Yitzchak and the unfolding of events as pertains to Yaakov and Esav.

Rivkah could not wait to leave her brother Lavan and father Betuel behind to go with Eliezer to marry Yitzchak. She saw Eliezer, coming from the home of Avraham and Yitzchak, was a moral man who spoke of G-d and cared very much for the values she embodied. When she was asked if she wanted to go with Eliezer or stay for 10 months to a year to get ready for marriage as was customary to do at that time, she responded with a concise and clear, “I will go”. She did not want to wait or push it off . She was ready to start a life that held much spiritual promise. She was a virtuous woman who ran to tend to Eliezer and his many camels personally, not knowing she would be rewarded with a gold nose ring and bracelets. Lavan, however, did the exact opposite. He ran to greet Eliezer because of the gold but then left him to fend for himself once inside the house, looking after his own pockets, not Eliezer’s needs.

Rivkah was surely repulsed by the behavior of her family members and happy to leave with Eliezer to marry the son of Avraham who was known as the first iconoclast to walk before G-d.

She gets on the camel happily following Eliezer. Rivkah was struck by the holy countenance of Yitzchak when she first saw him. So much so that she fell off her camel and attempted to cover her own identity feeling less than worthy of such a man. She maintained this insecurity throughout their marriage which caused her to conceal certain things from Yitzchak instead of keeping an open dialogue.

Rivkah recognized that she shared a common trait with her brother Lavan which was that they were both astute. Lavan was shrewd and would manipulate people to his advantage, whereas Rivkah was perceptive and insightful, using this ability to keep the peace by maneuvering people and events. She tried desperately to hide the fact that she shared a characteristic with Lavan from Yitzchak. This need to mask her familial character traits explains much of the story in Parshat Toldot.

Rivkah was concerned about tainting the relationship that she had with Yitzchak. It is one of the few relationships in the Torah that is described with the word “love”.  The word “love” appears later in the Parsha saying that Rivkah “loved” Yaakov and Yitzchak “loved” Esav. Yaakov was tamim and demure like Yitzchak and Esav was street smart and worldly like Rivkah. They each saw the other in the child that they “loved”.

Rivkah didn’t tell Yitzchak the bad she saw in Esav because she feared that he would blame her on some level.  She also wanted to maintain the integrity of the family while ensuring the future for her progeny. The scheme for Yaakov to dress up as Esav successfully garnered the Bracha for Yaakov, but incurred such anger from Esav that he wanted to kill Yaakov. Yitzchak was not aware of any of this and Rivkah crafted the perfect excuse to send Yaakov away from harm. She complained to Yitzchak that Yaakov could not take a wife from b’not Chet, who were evil. She figured he would follow Avraham’s lead and send Yaakov to her family to find a mate.  When Yitchak sent Yaakov the pasuk says, “And Yitzchak sent Yaakov, and he went to Padan aram, to Lavan the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rivkah, the mother of Yaakov and Esav.” Rashi asks why the need to repeat that  Rivkah was the mother of Yaakov and Esav when we already know very well who they all are! Rashi does not provide an answer, but perhaps it is because it was Rivkah, their mother, that managed their entire upbringing from the time they were in the womb to this very moment leading Yaakov to have to escape Esav and return to her family. Ironically, the same family she was so quick to leave behind and shield her immediate family from, ends up being the ‘safe haven’ from her own home.

We all have insecurities in life that we try desperately to cover up and pretend don’t exist. Doing so can lead to disastrous results. The people who love us, love us for who we are, and we should not have to cover or hide anything. Open dialogue, especially with loved ones is crucial in creating a healthy environment for all.

About the Author
Aliza Lipkin is a firm lover and believer in her country, her people and her G-d. She moved from the land of the free (America) to the home of the brave (Israel) 10 years ago and now resides with her family in Maaleh Adumim.