In this portion we meet Rivka and get to know a bit more about Isaac. In Kabbalah we always have a reverse ratio between tools and lights and on those portions we see how this idea manifest itself through Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Rivka.
In the previous portions we talked about Abraham's character, about how he is being the representative of the High Neshama, about the qualities and characteristics that he have.
And here in this portion, even if indirectly we get to know a bit more about Isaac. The character who will continue Abraham's legacy and eventually will become the root of the Jewish nation.
We know very little of Isaac. His life and characteristics. Isaac character is revealed to us through small and narrow episodes in the biblical story; we meet him as a chain of reflections in comparison to his great father Abraham. To be more exact even, in the scriptures, the life of Isaac are in a way a battleground of his father's struggles, tussles and deliberations with himself and the divine.
Abraham as a man of kindness, as the represent of the attribute of CHESED is actually struggling with his own internal strength and courage, which is expressed with or by - the divine demand from him to sacrifices his own son. We see here there is a strong connection between those two. There is a struggle here, an inner struggle inside Abraham that is represented also on the outside. Abraham is in a way fearing or considering the danger lays within this GEVURA attribute. Gevura is an extremely powerful attribute and its strength may take over CHESED. There is a continuance Tension between the two. Also, under this matter,
Now let us take a look at the relationship between Abraham and Sarah. In Kabbalah teachings, we know that we always have a reverse ratio between tools and lights. Tools are the vassals that accept lights inside them – we talking here about divine lights. And so there would always be a vassal and then a divine light that would enter the vassal. So we Have Abraham – the represent of CHESED And his wife, Sarah - his Vassale. Sarah is the vassal for a specific light – and therefore needs to be the opposite of CHESED. Sarah have much in her to point out the opposite characteristics. She is demanding him to deport Hagar, we have the Midrash about Sarah and her Angel - The Midrash is telling us that when Sarah was in Egypt with Abraham known to be his sister, she had an angel who served her by doing everything she asked. With this angel, she was able to repel anyone who came near her, including Pharaoh. The angel attacked Pharaoh and his slaves at Sarah's command.
Here is a very strong woman, who could not care less (in a way) from nothing but her life, her husband‘s life, and later on the life of their dearest child. Sarah was devoted to her life task rather than to other people – she knew she will become the one from which the entire dynasty of the Jewish people will be created. She have the strength, she have the power, the might - she does not give herself completely, she holds back – She has within her the female characteristics of the GEVURA attribute. And she is the opposite force to Abraham. Therefor she complete him in their joint journey.
Now let us try to examine Isaac’s life and the events that took place in his childhood and youth. As the masculine represent of the attribute of Gevura. Isaac had to go through some extreme events during his lifetime and those events must have been very real in his life and therefore examined, determined and shaped his behavior as well as his life pattern. Those events will also give us a glimpse on his special character and personality. The biblical story does not provide us with much detail about Isaac himself. Miraculously born, this child was a divine masterpiece, as such, he signified for his parents their soul fulfillment as well as the power of their absolute believe.
Isaac symbolizes for his parents, the ideal divine Providence as well as the fulfillment of the divine promise for their continuance. Isaac the child grows up as an absolute sign or manifestation of miracles and faith in God. Because of his parent’s intense love for him, Isaac grows up as he is shaping his character and building his personality as an ideal figure. He is the GOOD child, the talented one, the right boy. And as such his dependence on his parents is absolute.
Yitzhak is the child who deserves everything - he is the receiving child. His mother even demanded Hagar and Ishmael to leave so that Isaac will be kept as the good ideal child that he was. Isaac has no other peers with equal status, he has no friends as far as we know, and he gives-in to his parents’ wishes and desires throughout the entire story. He does not revolt against his extremely authoritative parents. And in a way he is even dreading their authority and their extreme superpower, along with also the power of the ideal he represents for them. Imagine the amount of mental stress and responsibility a child like this must have.
And so, Isaac personality is slowly but surely built up as to be introverted, he is passive, activated, in a way even lonely and isolated. His personality is of which of a young boy that is walking in the footsteps of his parents, without questioning – very different from his two parents who left their country and their homeland to achieve an unknown goal in foreign lands. Isaac’s figure dimensions were huge. So huge that a child on that age could not grasp, not to speak of the fact that the scope and magnitude of those dimensions, were beyond childish attainment. Those dimensions looks like (in our eyes – ACEDA) as insanity that was driven out of an ideological blindness, as if in Isaac existence death had become greater than life itself. We can even say Isaac figure in a way is even greater than life itself, because of what happen to him. Or in other words – this child’s life is dominated by death. And or death is dominated by his life. So ether way, this is one special kid here.
So we are talking here about a child that his personality developed characteristics of extreme and Absolute renunciation of everything, including his life. He literally was sacrificed – and therefore grow up to believe that this is the only way - sacrificing his life and desires completely to the desires of God. Out of this inner structure of consciousness, as a victim of circumstances, as a victim to his fathers’ absolute believe system in the divine, he becomes a person who devotes his soul to the sanctification of God, who consents even to death. Isaac in a way is a force that control over the instinct of life itself. Out of the experience of death, out of fear and terror, Isaac recognizes God's total control over his life. The nominal divine involvement that he has experienced as a child on the altar, created the concept of "Fear of Isaac." Fear that one can only overcome by observing Torah and commandments. Every Jew has a fear of Isaac.
Abraham does not ask Isaac for his will, he decides and states for him. For both of his parents, Isaac is like a well-kept precious diamond, reserved and supervised; he must not leave his natural environment and cannot leave his home. When he is supposed to get married, he does not consider Rivka's advantages or disadvantages, he agrees to the marriage that decided by his father – his physical father and the metaphysical one - by the Creator. In any case, when it comes to Isaac marriage, we see again a divine intervention even in the most material places. He does not confirm or reject the marriage - he is not asked whether he is willing, whether he wants to. Nothing, he has no opinion over nothing.
Isaac is a silent figure. But do NOT be confused for he is Probably the one with the greatest and most powerful internal forces.
We can see that there is no dialogue between Abraham and Isaac what so ever. Abraham is the active one while Isaac is the passive. Abraham’s servant received the power and authority to determine, according to Abraham's instructions, the future wife that will accompany Isaac in the rest of his life. Abraham wants from Eliezer a promise not to take a wife to his son from Canaanite, and not to bring his son back to Aram, to the idol-worshiping cultural environment he left behind. When it comes to his decedent Isaac – his precious diamond Abraham is not ready for any regression of his spiritual achievements.
When we look at Rivka though in comparison to Isaac, we can see an active figure with an absolute opinion. She holds the power to decide about her future, she is asked whether she should confirm or not her marriage to Isaac, whether she wants to go or not. She is very active, extremely aware of the fact that as a human being she has the right to choose her own destiny. She will follow Eliezer, BUT under her own will, and she will leave her family under her conditions. Still she too, like Isaac, is characterized by acceptance or receiving, she accepts the servant into her life; she accepts his presence and gifts. She receives from her brother the right to choose her way into marriage. She receives her husband from far away. Eliezer adorns her with jewellery, gowns and clothing, as she is equipped with all the virtues, including hospitality and kindness, just like her relative Abraham.
When she gives water for Eliezer’s Camals this is where we understand that this girl has CHESED inside her, the power of life, the power of water. Just as Abraham, she is characterized by generosity. And here again we can see the reverse ratio between tools (vassals) to lights Isaac Gevura and Rivka Chesed. In this divine parring – in the marriage of Isaac and Rivka, the hand of destiny is the strongest of all.
Miracles intertwined to become a ‘call’ for their sacred marriage. However, Rivka is the one who decide to approve the marriage. "We'll call the girl and ask her mouth." Her family is asking for her opinion. She is the one that needs to affirm "and say We will go," Rivka is about to leave her closest people, out of free will and marry a man she does not know in a place she had never been to. She is accepting a contract with an unknown person, a servant, to leave her family to a foreign land, away from all her relatives, away from any family protection, into the unknown. In a way, Rivka is doing exactly as Abraham did before her. She is doing her own LECH LECHA. And so we see that the spirit of Abraham is floating on Rivka. As Abraham, she will master herself and determine her destiny, by virtue of an internal will, and by virtue of a synchronic timing force - here too, we see destiny - God's will as it comes in terms of self-fulfillment that will lead to the creation of the Jewish Dynasty.
The ‘Go to yourself’ voice in Rivka comes not as the voice of God literally, but more as a female instinct, she has. In due course, she will become the only woman to receive a direct response from the divine, from God. So unknowingly, she chooses Abraham's path, literally, and begin a journey to reach to Canaan, the symbol of the new existential and spiritual cultural environment of the new era. Equipped with great values – like determination, courage, generosity and mental maturity that is beyond her age. Open minded and extremely wise this woman-child knows without being told, that the man "in the field" is for her. So we can see here, in this portion the build-up of forces, the qualities of extremes as they intertwine. CHESED AND GEVURAH on both sides of the Tree of Life, the wisdom of the Jewish heritage Is crucial for healthy consciousness. Both are defiantly in a silent struggle power that comes out to be seen in this story’s characters themselves, as well as inside us, inside our soul. We continue to discover the forces we are made of, our MIDOT – our attributes and of how to reach the right and healthy balance between them all. After all Abraham and Sarah as well as Isaac and Rivka enter the covenant of marriage. And we are to follow their footsteps.
To find out more about this week's portion watch the Torah lesson.