Chayei Sarah

Acts of True Kindness

“And it was when the camels finished drinking, Eliezer took a golden nose ring, its weight a Beka, and two bracelets on her arms weighing ten golden Shekel.”

Rashi tells us, the Beka, (the half- shekel weight) was an allusion to the Shekalim of Klal Yisroel – the half shekel donated by Klal Yisroel for the Beis HaMikdash. The two bracelets were an allusion to the two Luchos given to Moshe at Mount Sinai – and the weight of 10 shekel, alluded to the Aseres HaDibros , the Ten Commandments, which were written on them.

Why was it necessary at this time for Eliezer to hint to Rivka concerning these future events? The Maharal answers that Eliezer was telling Rivka that as the Mishna in Avos states (1:2) “the world stands on three things – Torah, Avodah and Gemilas Chasadim.” I see that you are very accomplished in acts of Gemilas Chesed. However, to be one of the matriarchs of Klal Yisroel you must also excel in Torah and Avodah. Torah, which was represented by the 2 bracelets weighing 10 shekel – alluding to the Luchos; Avodah, which was represented by the Beka – used to purchase the Korbonos for the Beis HaMikdash.

If I may, I would suggest a similar explanation. The pasuk (Mishlei 14:34) tells us “V’chesed leumim chatas” – the benevolence of the nations is sinful. Similarly there is a well known secular saying that the road to “gehenom” is paved by well intentioned people. Chazal (Medrash Tanchuma Parshas Metzora) tell us “Kol hamiracheim al haachzarim lisof misaachzar al haarachmanim” (he who has mercy on cruel people will, in the end, be cruel to people truly deserving of mercy).

Charity, if misdirected, may result in injustice. This concept clearly applies to the tragedy in Pittsburgh. The savage beast that murdered our brothers and sisters there last week should be shown no mercy, for to do so would mean justice was inadequately applied to the murderer.

Chesed, although an extremely noble pursuit, is nonetheless severely diminished and at times even can cause great harm if not rooted in Avodas Hashem and in Torah. It is this message that Eliezer was conveying to Rivkah: I see you are a great Balaas Chesed but you must know that Chesed, to be true Chesed, must be in harmony with Torah and Avodah.

Have a good Shabbos

Rabbi Dovid Sochet