Parshat Chayei Sarah
1999(61) Then Rebecca and her maids arose, mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and went his way.
(62) Isaac had just come back from the vicinity of Beer-lahai-roi, for he was settled in the region of the Negev.
(63) And Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening and, looking up, he saw camels approaching.
(64) Raising her eyes, Rebekah saw Isaac. She alighted from the camel (65) and said to the servant, "Who is that man walking in the field toward us?" And the servant said, "That is my master." So she took her veil and covered herself.
(66) The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. (67) Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother's death.
Your Torah Navigator:
This is the first mention of love between man and woman in the Bible.
1. What are your favorite love scenes from the movies? What are the characteristics they have in common?
2. What characterizes this love scene with Isaac and Rebekah? How does it compare/contrast with those from the movies?
3. Look carefully at the words of the text. What is the Bible telling us about the nature of love, relationships and marriage? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
4. The text uses the same verbal expressions (vayeesa ...vayar/vateesa...vatayre) to describe Isaac's first viewing of Rebekah and Rebekah's first viewing of Isaac. We may learn from this that Isaac and Rebekah were "on the same page" as they begin their relationship.
4. Isaac does four different things in verse 67. Why this excess of verbs in the text? Each action, and their order, must have special meaning. Think about the meaning of each action and the significance of their order in Isaac's courtship of Rebekah. Does anything bother you?
Genesis Rabbah, Chapter 60:15
"'Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah' All the days Sarah lived, there was a cloud hovering at the threshold of the tent. When she died, the cloud terminated. And when Rebekah came the same cloud returned. All the days Sarah lived, the doors [in the community] were open to her spirit. When Sarah died, the spirit terminated. And when Rebekah came, the same spirit returned. All the days that Sarah lived, there was a candle burning [in the tent] from erev Shabbat to erev Shabbat. When she died, the candle terminated. And when Rebekah came, the candle returned. When Isaac saw Rebekah that she did like her mother, [then he took her as his wife]."
Your Midrash Navigator:
1. According to the midrash, what is the meaning of "brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah?" What was Isaac looking for in a mate? How do you react to this?
2. Does this solve our textual problem of four different verbs? Why? Why not?
3. Rashi offers a beautiful explanation of Isaac's "comfort after his mother's death." Although he writes specifically about men in relation to their mothers and wives, Rashi intimates that people only find two sources of true comfort and peace in their lives: their parents and their mates. Do you agree/disagree? Rashi is suggesting something very important about the institution of marriage for human psychology.
Prepared by Rabbi Mark Robbins, Jewish Chaplain, Georgetown University