If I say to the girl â€œTip your jug over and let me drinkâ€ and she responds, â€œDrink, and I will water your camels as wellâ€ she is the one whom You have verified [as the mate] for Your servant Yitzchak. [If I find such a girl] I will know that You have done lovingkindness to my master.
She [Rivkah] is fitting for him [Yitzchak]for she will perform deeds of lovingkindness and is worthy of coming into the house of Avraham.
She is worthy of him, for she will perform acts of kindness, and she is fit to enter the house of Abraham;She is worthy of him, for she will perform acts of kindness, and she is fit to enter the house of Abraham;
At first glance the litmus test for Rivkahâ€™s compatibility with Yitzchak seems ill-advised.Â While itâ€™s true that Avraham Avinu is identified with Chesed-lovingkindness, Yitzchak Avinu is identified with Gevurah-might and self-control. So, while extending favors and lovingkindness might demonstrate that Rivkah was worthy of entering the house of Avraham, Eliezer had been dispatched to choose a bride for Yitzchak, not for Yitzchaks father. As such, perhaps Eliezer should have prayed for HaShem to arrange for circumstances that would test Rivkahs self-restraint, courage and strength rather than her lovingkindness.
HaShem said â€œIt is not good for man to be alone.Â Â I will make him a helpmate opposite him
Rashi famously explains this Pasuk as an either / or proposition; â€œIf one is worthy (his wife) will be his helpmate, if he is unworthy then she becomes his opponent to wage warâ€.Â However, the Izhbitzer writes that a straightforward reading of the Pasuk tells us that Hashemâ€™s Will is that oneâ€™s help arises from a challenging opponent rather than from an ostensibly sympathetic ally.
To illustrate this concept he cites the Gemara (Bava Metzia 84A) that relates that after the death of Reish Lakish, Rebee Yochonon became despondent. Rebee Yochonon had been the deceasedâ€™s adversary in numerous Halachic disputes, At first Rebee Elazar ben Pedas was sent to him as a new disciple to â€œreplaceâ€ Reish Lakish. But Rebee Elazar turned out to be a â€œyes-manâ€ ally, buttressing each of Rebee Yochononâ€™s Halachic opinions with corroborating braisos. Rather than drawing comfort from his new student Rebee Yochonon grew even more grief-stricken and cried out â€œYou are nothing like the son of Lakish! When I offered an opinion the son of Lakish would pose twenty four questions and Iâ€™d supply twenty four answers. In this way the topic would be illuminated and clarified.â€
Hashemâ€™s stated goal in the creation of the first woman; adversarial assistance, was to become the template for all subsequent women. The antithetical natures of man and woman are reflected on the biological, psychological and spiritual levels. Human males and females perceive reality in distinctive masculine and feminine ways. They are two genders divided by a common language. A contemporary author aptly titled his bestselling book about relationships using a metaphor indicating that men and women come from different planets and are as extra-terrestrial aliens to one another.
Chazal tell us that since the time of Creation, HaShem is a Matchmaker who â€œsits and pairs up couples.â€ (Bereshis Rabbah 68:4). Based on how He designed the first human couple to function as a unit this means that besides the two genders being diametrically opposed to one another in the broadly generic sense the Divine â€œMaker of pairsâ€ customizes opposing forces in every specific couple according to each partnerâ€™s unique make-up.
The Izhbitzers great disciple Rav Tzadok, the Lubliner Kohen, carries the concept further:Â The attraction and pairing of opposites is based on more than the dynamic tension of opposing forces strengthening and sharpening one another. It is also because each individual is incomplete unto themselves. To use the Talmudic imagery, a single person is merely half a body.Â So when antithetical males and females are paired they complement one another and fill in that which their partner lacks.
This explains the prayer of Avrahamâ€™s servant, Eliezer. It is precisely because Yitzchak is defined by Gevurah that Eliezer sought a mate for him imbued with Chesed. To have paired Yitzchak with a woman of Gevurah would have been redundant, so to speak, Â as Yitzchak would already have provided the marriage with that half of the equation. Such a match would work against the Divine template for matchmaking; â€œa helpmateâ€¦. opposite himâ€ davkah.
There are two ways in which a Midah Bâ€™Kedusha-A characteristic rooted in holiness can be linked to another characteristic; Â either by uniting with its opposing Midah Bâ€™Kedusha or by being conflated with its sympathetic, mirror-image Midah Bâ€™Sitra Achra-a characteristic rooted in evil. Â When two antithetical Midos Bâ€™Kedusha join forces their relationship is symbiotic. They complement one another like nesting concave and convex figures with each Midah Bâ€™Kedusha rounding out the other to form the whole. Â So, while a tension exists between them, sensing that it is their â€œadversaryâ€ that will make them complete, they are attracted to one another as well.
On the other hand when a Midah Bâ€™Kedusha connects to its mirror-image Midah Bâ€™Sitra Achra nothing beneficial accrues to the Midah Bâ€™Kedusha . It is stuck with and to the evil Midah Bâ€™Sitra Achra as part of the inescapable fallout of the cosmic mish-mash of good and evil resulting from the Original Sin *1. But there is no reason, hence no way, for a Midah Bâ€™Kedusha to unite with an antithetical Midah Bâ€™Sitra Achra. When confronted with an antithetical Midah Bâ€™Sitra Achra the Midah Bâ€™Kedusha senses all of the tension and the antagonism but none of the opportunity for fulfillment. In such instances, the Midah Bâ€™Kedusha is utterly repelled by the adversarial nature of the Midah Bâ€™Sitra Achra.
This helps us better understand the family dynamics of our earliest patriarchs and matriarchs. Avraham Avinu was defined by his midah of Chesed– loving-kindness, giving to, and pouring out upon, others. His mate, Sara, complemented and completed Avraham through her opposing midah of Gevurah. In the next generation the roles of the male and female marriage partners were reversed. Yitzchak Avinu was defined by his midah of Gevurah-forceful self-restraint. Â Â Informed by Hashems awe-inspiring Infinity, Gevurah is the trait of conquering, and impeding the expansion of, oneself.Â His mate, Rivkah, complemented and completed Yitzchak through her opposing midah of Chesed.
The evil parallel midah of Chesed is Znus-debauchery which bears some superficial similarities to acts of â€œgiving to and pouring out upon othersâ€ but which is informed at its core by selfishness and egotism rather than by selflessness and altruism. The evil parallel midah of Gevurah is Shfichas Damim-homicide which bears some superficial similarities to acts of â€œforcefulness, conquering, and impeding expansionâ€ but which seeks to dominate others rather than oneself and that is informed at its core by self-indulgence and paranoia rather than by self-abnegation and the awe of G-d.Â Yishmael is the embodiment of Znus while Esav is the personification of Shfichas Damim [The arms are Esavs armsâ€¦You shall live by your sword].
Although Yishmels midah was evil it had some affinity to the holy midah of Chesed and so Avrahams Chesed allowed him to tolerate Yishamel.Â But Sara, who possessed holy Gevurah, the trait intrinsically hostile to Chesed, was completely repulsed by Yishmaels unholy, evil â€œChesedâ€ and so she drove him away. In precisely this manner while Esavs midah was evil it had some affinity to the holy midah of Gevurah and so Yitzchaks Gevurah moved him to affection for Esav.Â Yitzchak loved Esav (Bereshis 25:28).Â But Rivkah who possessed holy Chesed, the trait intrinsically hostile to Gevurah, was completely revolted by Esavâ€™s unholy, evil â€œGevurahâ€ and so she orchestrated events to disinherit him.
Adapted from Mei HaShiloach Bereshis Dâ€H Eâ€™Eseh Lo Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â and Kometz HaMincha Inyan 50 (page 46–47)
1* This fundamental concept received a fuller treatment in an earlier installment in this series.Â To learn about it CLICK HERE