What lesson can we “draw” from Rivkah’s well?
It was a shidduch at first sight. Even before Eliezer could put Rivkah to his test – to see if she would offer water to his camels – he already seemed certain that she was Yitzchak’s bashert. After all, Eliezer ran toward Rivkah after simply observing her fill her pitcher (B’reishis 24:16-17). What made him so confident that she was “the one”?
Rashi explains that Eliezer had witnessed a miracle occur on her behalf: The water rose to the surface of the well as she approached with her container. This clued him in that there was something special about this girl.
The Ramban elaborates that the pasuk alludes to the occurrence of this miracle by simply stating that Rivkah approached the well and filled her pitcher, without making any reference to her actually drawing the water. This was how Rashi knew that Rivkah was miraculously spared this inconvenience. By contrast, the Ramban continues, when Rivkah returned to the well to procure water for Eliezer and his camels, the verse does add that she had to draw the water herself (v. 20), indicating that the supernatural feat did not reoccur.
Why didn’t the magic repeat itself? Had she suddenly lost her superpowers?
Rav Zalman Sorotzkin zt”l (Oznayim LaTorah) answers that there was a crucial difference between these two instances of collecting water. On the first occasion, Rivkah was gathering water for herself; on the second, she was drawing water as a kindness for others. When performing a mundane chore, Hashem granted her a shortcut to spare unnecessary time and effort. However, when engaged in an act of chesed, Hashem did not want to deprive her of even a moment – or an ounce – of the mitzvah opportunity!
What an amazing perspective! We may often feel the opposite: “If Hashem really wanted me to go to Maariv, He would not have made the weather so cold or finding parking such a nightmare!” In truth, however, the need to expend full effort in the performance of a mitzvah is precisely what makes it so special.
Chazal have an expression: l’fum tzaara agra (Avos 5:23), loosely translated as: No pain, no gain. In other words, the effort required for a mitzvah is not a hurdle to overcome; on the contrary, it is the barometer of the true value of that action! Certainly, mitzvos would be much less burdensome if they were effortless, but by the very same token, they would also be that much less valuable. Hashem was willing to help Rivkah save time and effort when it didn’t matter; but for chesed: Yes pain, yes gain!