(Courtesy of Michael Berg, author of "The Way")
In this week’s portion, Avraham sends his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son, Yitzchak. Eliezer requests assistance from Hashem to find Yitzchak’s soulmate, Rivkah. He asks the Creator to show him a sign. “I will stand at the well where the girls will come to draw water,” he said. The girl to whom I will say, ‘Draw some water for me to drink,’ will answer, ‘Drink and I will draw water for your camels as well.’ This is the girl whom you have designated for your servant Yitzchak, and with this I will know that you have done kindness with my master (Avraham).”
The last verse “…and with this I will know that you have done kindness with my master,” can be understood literally, but there is a deeper meaning to this verse. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichov turns to the Zohar which states that during the time of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, even babies knew supernal wisdom. Because Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s spiritual work and revelation of Light and wisdom was so great, he caused his level of Light to be revealed throughout the world. His spiritual presence was so prominent that it influenced everyone: even small children and babies could perceive supernatural wisdom. This was due to his own spiritual strength and to the fact that the Creator endows to the world his specific spiritual characteristic.
The idea that great spiritual channels (Tzadikim) reveal their Light and unique spiritual force throughout the world, and in turn this energy influences every person alive, is a very important concept for all of us. When we realize that this is true not only for the great spiritual giants but that even we have this influence, albeit on a smaller scale, we need to comprehend the significance of every action that we perform. Everything we do has the potential to either positively or negatively influence the rest of the world.
Based on this teaching, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichov points out the similarity between the spiritual influence of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and that of Avraham. The Kabbalists teach us that Avraham was the channel for kindness (chesed) in the world, and due to his great spiritual work he endowed the entire world with his attribute, so that the entire world would act in kindness. This is what Eliezer meant in the verse, “…and with this I will know that you have done kindness with my master,” namely, My master (Avraham) is the cause for kindness in the world - as expressed by the girl’s actions - because my master reveals the Light of kindness in the world. “That you have done kindness,” means that the kindness that you do in the world, and the kindness that one person does to the other in the world is “with my master.” Meaning that my master is the cause of that kindness.
This is a beautiful explanation of the verses. What Eliezer is actually saying is that through Avraham’s spiritual work, he revealed such great power of kindness in the world, that many third party actions of kindness, including Rivkah’s, were actually caused by Avraham.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak further explains what was written when Rivkah was born. The Hebrew word used in the Torah is yuldah, which, is opposed to the usually used, noldah. This implies that she was born by herself without the assistance of her father or mother. The Torah is revealing to us that the great soul of Rivkah was not revealed in the world by her parents (who were not positve people) but rather was revealed because of Avraham and his life of kindness.
This is even a greater revelation than before. We learn that not only can one influence the actions of the rest of the world through his own actions, but that he can even cause different souls to come down into this world through his actions.
We should realize that, although the lesson is learned from Avraham who was an awesome channel for the Light of the Creator, nevertheless it is applicable to every single one of us. Of course, our influence is not as powerful as Avraham’s influence being dependent on our individual level of connection to the Light of the Creator. However, to some extent, our actions do affect the rest of the world.
This lesson enhances our understanding of the great influence of our actions and spiritual work. It propels us to do our utmost to reveal more and more of the Light of the Creator in the world through our actions and spiritual work, so that we will be able to influence the world in increasingly positive ways.