Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayetze
To dedicate this lesson

And He Rolled Back the Stone


Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon

The Torah describes in detail Yaakov’s meeting with Rachel at the well and the uncovering of the well. Why does the Torah go through the trouble of telling us about it?[1]
It seems the story of Yaakov and Rachel’s first encounter is similar to that of Eliezer and Rivka: both take place by the well, the appropriate spouse is found, and the same families are involved, those of Avraham and Lot. Nevertheless, one can assume that there is another point that is meant to grab our attention.
To sharpen this, let’s review what happens in these two parallel stories. In the story of Eliezer and Rivka, Eliezer is the rich person, he arrives with camels and the wealth of his master with him. Rivka, in contrast, is a small and vulnerable woman, but it is specifically her who labors and exerts herself, she draws water again and again, in order to do kindness with Eliezer and his camels.
In the story of Yaakov and Rachel, we find auxiliary people aside from them: these are the shepherds. The shepherds were strong men, locals who apparently knew the well better than other.s In contrast, Yaakov is an unknown and bereft of anything, who ran away from home. Nonetheless, he is the one to do kindness with the shepherds and it is he who lifts the rock that rests upon the well.
Rivka in the previous story, and her son Yaakov in this story are the weaker, lesser ones who have nothing. Even though their situations are more difficult than others, it is they who specifically perform a kindness.
In other words, from these stories we are able to learn that it is not money, nor wealth, nor age, nor experience that determine if one is a kind person. The heart, willpower, willingness, and a positive perspective are what cause one to be a kind person, if they will give and contribute to others. Money and property, however, are what enables one to do more kindness, while willpower, a good heart, are what cause one to do kindness and to act. Every person has many things that they can give and contribute; let us be aware of our abilities, strive to be full of willpower and a willingness to do kindness, and we will surprisingly discover that we have awesome abilities to act upon, to do and to give.
[1]See Rambam who explains it differently. Here we being one approach, but there is another approach that we have presented in the past.
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