Parashat Haye-Sara: Drawing Water From the Well
Parashat Hayeh-Sara tells the famous story of Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, who was sent to Abraham’s birthplace, Aram Naharayim, for the purpose of finding a suitable match for Abraham’s son, Yishak. When Eliezer arrives at the well outside the city, he sees the local girls going to the well to draw water. He prays that G-d should arrange that the girl who offers to give water to him and his camels, after he requests water only for himself, should be the right girl for Yishak. Sure enough, Eliezer approaches Ribka, who had just filled her pitcher with water, and asks if he could drink. She graciously gives him some water from her pitcher, and then offers to provide water for his camels. Ribka returned to the well, drew water and poured it into the trough for Eliezer’s camels.
The Midrash comments that Eliezer approached Ribka because he noticed something miraculous occurring when she approached the well: the water rose to greet her. Eliezer realized that this was no ordinary young woman, and so he decided to approach her and see if she would offer water for his camels.
Rav Levi Yishak of Berditchev (1740-1809) noted that although the water in the well rose to greet Ribka, she had to work hard to draw water for Eliezer’s camels. Apparently, the water that had initially risen went back down into the well. The reason, Rav Levi Yishak explained, is because the true value of a Misva is the effort and hard work invested in it. Once Ribka decided to do the Misva of drawing water for the visitor’s camels, G-d sent the water back down so she would have to work to fulfill the Misva.
We often find it very difficult to observe the Misvot and live a Torah life – but this is precisely the way it is supposed to be. If we want to “draw water from the well” – perform Misvot and gain the immense benefits they offer us – then we need to work for it. We cannot expect the “water” to always “rise” for us, that Misva observance will be easy. Sometimes, the “water” goes back down, and he have to work hard to draw it.