(Genesis 23:1-25:18)

(Haftara: Kings I 1:1-31)

  1. [24:13] Yitzchak’s wife, Rivkah, was discovered beside a well of water. Rachel, Ya’akov’s wife, was also discovered beside a well. Moshe’s wife Tzipporah was similarly first spoken to beside a well. In the Torah a well is called “mayim chayim”—pure living water. What does the fact that these women were first met by wells tell us about the Torah’s attitude to marriage and finding one’s soul-mate?
  1. [24:63] “And Yitzchak went ‘lasuach basade…’” Rabbenu Bechaya (11th century, Spain) says that the simple meaning of this phrase is that Yitzchak went to enjoy a stroll among the trees. He then quotes a midrash that tells us that Yitzchak went to pray—but this, apparently, is not the simple meaning. What is the difference between the simple meaning (pshat) and the midrashic meaning (drash)? Why isn’t the simple meaning that Yitzchak went to pray?
  1. [24:67] “…and he loved her…” The Torah tells us that Yitzchak loved Rivkah. Avraham didn’t mention anything about love to Eliezer when he sent him to find a wife for Yitzchak. Love between a husband and wife seem to be important to the Torah, so why didn’t Avraham mention the factor of love to Eliezer?
  1. [24:67] “…and he took Rivkah and she was his wife and he loved her…” The Ramban says that Yitzchak loved Rivkah because she was righteous like Sara. The Netziv says that he loved Rivkah for herself. Which is the deeper love?
  1. [Haftara] The haftara talks about who the successor to King David will be—Shlomo or Adoniyahu. What is the connection between the Torah reading and the haftara reading? How does each reading help us to understand the other reading?

Commentary

[23:4] “I am a stranger and a resident with you…”

The Jew is a “resident” in the world. The Torah tells us not to escape the events and reality of this world, but rather to live in the world and elevate it. However, at the same time, the Jew feels himself a “stranger”. His true home is the world of spirituality, holiness and Godliness. His soul has been exiled from that higher reality and yearns to return to it.

In fact, it is only because he remains a “stranger” that he can maintain the spiritual vision and integrity needed to live in the world and sanctify it as a “dwelling for God.”

–R. Menachem M. Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher rebbe, USA, (1902-1994)

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer