How could Rivka do that?

What made her so sure of herself?

Rabbi Avraham Gordimer

Judaism לשאת ידיים לשמיים
לשאת ידיים לשמיים
Rabbi Avraham Gordimer

Some of Rivka’s remarks to Yaakov may strike one as quite unusual:

  • And now, my son, listen to my voice, to that which I command you. Please go to the flocks and take me from there two goats…” (Bereshis 27:9)

  • Your curse will be upon me, my son; but listen to my voice and go and take them for me.” (ibid. v. 13)

  • And now, my son, listen to my voice, and arise; flee to Lavan my brother, to Charan.” (Ibid. v. 43)     

This was said in the course of Yaakov (Jacob) disguising himself as Eisav (Esau)  in order to obtain Yitzchak’s (Isaac's)  blessings, and Yaakov then running for his life from Eisav - both exceptionally delicate and tense events. How could Rivka (Rebecca)  speak with such certainty and conviction, unilaterally taking these matters into her hands and placing Yaakov at immense risk?

From the time we first read about Rivka, during her youth in Haran, we are captivated by her confidence and decisiveness. Eliezer asked Rivka to host him and his entourage, and she immediately invited them over to stay. The very next morning, young Rivka was asked to go with Eliezer and leave her family for marriage to Yitzchak in a foreign land, and she resolutely and bravely agreed, despite her family’s reservations. It is apparent that Rivka knew that this was her destiny, and she would not be deterred.

Rivka harbored an acute intuition about the future trajectory and destiny of herself and her progeny. She knew what was right and what was necessary in order to work toward the divinely providential goal, and she daringly acted upon it without hesitation. She did not need to wait for directives; she foresaw the correct path and took it, never looking back. Hence did Rivka confidently embark with Eliezer for what would appear to be an unknown fate, and hence did she uninhibitedly command Yaakov to enter quite risky situations that at face value jeopardized his life, for she had clarity of vision and a holy clairvoyance.  

This exceedingly unique quality of Rivka was divinely gifted, and Rivka certainly maintained an extremely lofty spiritual level, being close to God and thereby meriting special insight and intuition. But what was it about Rivka such that this quality was so noticeably pronounced in her?

Each of the Avot and Imahot (Patriarchs and Matriarchs), as a team, shared specific characteristics. Avraham and Sarah conducted a joint kiruv and chesed operation; Yaakov and his wives cultivated the Shvatim, the Twelve Tribes, which constituted the future Jewish People. And Yitzchak and Rivka fortified and perpetuated the faith commitment of Avraham, with a necessary inward concentration that provided staying power to perpetuate Avraham’s legacy in the face of adversity.

In conformity with the holy intensity of Yitzchak’s persona, he was not permitted to leave the Land of Israel (Bereshit 26:2 with Rashi, from Midrash Rabbah), and Rivka was overcome by Yitzchak’s aura of kedushah, sanctity, when she first encountered him (v. Rashi, from Midrash Rabbah on Bereshit 24:64). Yitzchak lived on an extremely elevated spiritual plane, and Rivka was his counterpart in this.

Thus did Rivka possess a very keen, holy intuition, as she existed on a different level, as did Yitzchak. Rivka could see things that were hidden to others, and she exactly knew how to respond, for she was privy to a realm that is closed to almost everyone else. This is why Rivka determined with complete definitiveness that she should leave Haran with Eliezer and marry Yitzchak, despite barely knowing Eliezer and never having met Yitzchak, and it is why she was so decisive with her directives to Yaakov in acquiring the berachos, blessings, which designated him as the next of the Avot, as well as with her directive to Yaakov that he flee to save his life.

As a young expectant mother, Rivka merited to receive a divine communication about the nature of her offspring (Bereshis 25:23), and she was later sent a message from Heaven about Eisav’s plans to kill Yaakov (Rashi, from Midrash Rabbah on Bereshit 27:42). Rivka had a sixth sense and received Ruach Ha-Kodesh (prophetic spirit) from God.  

Rivka’s holy intensity and sacred clairvoyance were utilized to save and perpetuate the Jewish future. Her directives of extreme conviction at times of peril and her decisiveness in the face of great risk were the manifestation of her being privy to a realm that is beyond the natural. But, as the wife and spiritual mate of Yitzchak, life on this exalted plane was indeed the natural.