The Torah doesn’t elaborate much on the lives of Yitzhak and Rivka. This might probably be because the world is built on Chesed (lovingkindness), and this couple’s souls are rooted in the Sephira of Gevurah (stern judgment). Yet, the little we know about them is filled with secrets and lessons for life.
In Likutey Torah, the Arizal explains that Rivka was a reincarnation of Chava while Yaakov, their son, was a reincarnation of Adam. Her spiritual power enabled her to see that it was time to rectify the sin of convincing Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and said “now, my son, listen to me”, which is a clear reference to the admonition Hashem gave to Adam “because you listened to your wife.” Not only that, but Yaakov also said “maybe my father will feel me and I will be seen as a deceiver and receive a curse instead of a blessing?”, to which Rivka replied “your curse should be upon me, my son!”, therefore rectifying the curse that Hashem put in all mankind after Adam and Chava sinned.
But, more importantly, very few people know that Rivka, our Matriarch, saved the entire world with her ruse. Let’s explore this in-depth.
Saving the World
The Torah states that Yitzhak loved Esav, while Rivka loved Yaakov. Near his death, Yitzhak summoned Esav to task him with bringing a meal. He wanted to bless his firstborn with nothing less than supremacy in this world and in the world to come. These were blessings that would confer the continuation of the holy lineage of Avraham and Yitzhak.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Rivka saved the world through her bravery. The Torah doesn’t give us many details about the content of the blessings Yitzhak wanted to give, but it’s enough that we peek into the Zohar to understand what they are all about. In Zohar Bereshit 142A, Rabbi Yosi said “Come and see! If, Heaven forbid, Esav would have been blessed at that time, Jacob would never have ruled over the world.”
Esav was, of course, a reincarnation of the primordial Snake whose job was to seek the destruction of all matters of holiness. It was evident that had Esav received the blessings, he’d have become so powerful nobody would be able to stand against him, and he’d have destroyed the entire world.
The Tikkuney HaZohar also states that the word used for “meal” (Mat’amim) is a reference to the positive Mitzvot. In making sure Yaakov came before Esav to give his meal, she ensured that he’d get the positive Mitzvot for posterity. RebbeNachman of Breslov also elaborates that conducting one’s business affairs with Emuna is an aspect of Mat’amim, meaning, through this act, a person shows his love for Hashem and His Name is sanctified and made loved.
Pursuing good by all means necessary
Rivka knew better than anyone what the stakes were. At first glance, it seems incoherent she’d force her son Yaakov to lie to her husband. But her ruse was in fact a necessary ploy to thwart the Snake’s desire to destroy the world.
One critical detail that many people miss in the narrative is: how could Yitzhak then tell Esav “your brother came with deceit and took your blessings”? He was inciting Esav to hate Yaakov, which is nothing less than the prohibition of Lashon HaRah (evil speech)! But, in a way, he was merely reflecting a truth that Rivka had realized a long time ago: Esav had no hope and so was unfit to receive the blessings. In instigating Esav against Yaakov, Yitzhak was protecting Yaakov from being corrupted by his brother’s evil influence.
The story of the righteous Rivka is a timely lesson for all generations: sometimes, we must pursue good even while doing things that supposedly seem wrong. There’s a not-so-fine line between truth and honesty. One example of this being true is when, during the Holocaust, many righteous gentiles lied to Nazis about hiding Jews in their homes. Being honest about it would’ve obviously been a negation of the truth that human lives matter more than accepting orders from evil (and not lying).
We should emulate the example of our holy Matriarch Rivka who risked everything to make sure evil wouldn’t get the upper hand in the battle for holiness. The battle continues through the spiritual descendants of Yaakov, even non-Jews, who follow the path of searching for Hashem!
This article was written in the zechut of all Emuna Builder partners. May they have eternal success in all their endeavors with complete emuna!
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