Chayei Sarah - Making An Effort for a Mitzvah

In the Parshah Chayei Sarah, The Kedushat Levi comments on the pasuk: "The servant ran toward her. 'If you would, let me sip a little water from your jug,' he said." (Breisheit 24:17). The author is stirred to comment on this episode, based on the servant, Eliezer's, actions. What attracted caught his eye in the young girl, Rivka, that excited him to specifically run toward. her?

First we should take a step back and look at what instigated Eliezer to run. Take a look at the previous pasuk:  "The girl was extremely good-looking, [and] she was a virgin untouched by any man. The girl went down, filled her jug, and then came up again." (Breisheit 24:16).

From a simple observation of this pasuk, besides the emphasis of her attractiveness and appearance, there doesn't seem to be an indication of something that would drive Eliezer to run straight toward Rivka. The Kedushat Levi addresses the question of Eliezer's behavior by noting the commentary of Rashi. Rashi elucidates the situation by bringing the midrashic text from Breisheit Rabbah on pasusk 24:17: "[he ran] since he saw the water rise to her."

The Kedushat Levi expands on this by noting the commentary of the Ramban on this pasuk: "according to Rashi, since he saw the water rise to her. And in Breisheit Rabbah (60,5) 'filled her jug, and came up again,' all of the women go down and fill up from the well, and this is because they saw the water immediately rise up, and Hakodesh Baruch Hu said to her that this is a good sign for sons.
It appears that it was precise in the language used: 'filled her jug, and came up again,' rather than saying 'and she drew water and it was filled.' A miracle occurred in the first instance (pasuk 24:16) and after when she brought water for the camels (pasuk 24:19 When he had finished drinking she said, let me draw water for your camels, so they can drink their fill.') it is written 'ותשאב' meaning 'and she drew the water'.
And thus further on (in pasuk 24:45 I had not yet finished speaking to myself when Rivka suddenly came out carrying her jug on her shoulder. When she went down to the well and drew water. I said to her, 'Please give me a drink'), he uses the language of 'drew water' for they (Rivka's family) may not believe him.

So we see from the Ramban's clarification of the issue that a miracle occurred when Rivka went to get water from the well. It was such an impressive miracle that not only did he come running to her, assured by the heavenly sign he saw, but also concealed the details of these events when repeating the events to her family out of concern for how his miraculous observations would be taken.

The motivation for Eliezer's actions is the undeniable miracle he witnessed, reassuring him without doubt that he had found the woman for which he had been purposed with finding.

The essence of the Kedushat Levi's question goes further and deeper than accounting for why Eliezer ran to Rivka. The Kedushat Levi asks on the language of the pasukim themselves. Why when in pasuk 24:16 does it say that she 'filled her jug' while in pasuk 24:19 does it say 'let me draw water for your camels'? What changed? What is the difference in circumstance from when she initially went to the well, to when she went back to get water for the camels.

Kedushat Levi notes that Chazal, in b'seiata dshmayah, say in Mesechet Psachim (114:Bet): Mitzvot need intent (kavanah).

Let's look at the discussion in Psachim. "They brought before him, he dips in the hazeret before he comes to parperet ha-pat. They brought before him matzah and hazeret and haroset and two cooked dishes, even though the haroset is not an obligation. Rabbi Eliezer bar Zadok says, It is an obligation. And in the Temple they would bring before him the body of the korban pesah."

The Talmud continues with the following discussion.
"Resh Lakish said: This proves that mitzvot require intention, [for] since he does not eat it the stage when hazaret are compulsory, he eats it with [the blessing,] ‘boray pri ha-adamah,’ and perhaps he did not intend [to fulfil the obligation of] hazaret; therefore he must dip it again with the express intent of [eating] hazeret. For if you should think [that] mitzvot do not require intention, then why two dippings: surely he has [already] dipped it once?"

The sugya continues to examine whether intention is required. But for the Kedushat Levi, the outcome of this discussion is not pertinent to the pasukim in Chayei Sarah.

The Kedushat Levi explains: Mitzvot need intention. And the main issue with mitzvot is the thought put in when performing the mitzvah in satisfying the will of the creator. And so with this mind, in the first instance (pasuk 24:16) when Rivka's intention was to draw water for herself, the water (miraculously) rose up to her so as not to trouble her since her own intention was only to draw water for her own needs. However in the second instance (pasuk 24:19) when her intention was to perform an act of loving kindness (gmilut chesed) to give water to the camels of Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, the water did not rise (by itself) to her.

The Kedushat Levi concludes with: When a person does a mitzvah it is more important to carry out the action, so that the action itself, is done with intention of doing the mitzvah. In other words, when doing mitzvot it is meritorious to put forth effort and invest in doing mitzvot, not to rely on miracles.

Psachim 114B
But whence [does this food]? Perhaps after a mitzvot do not require intention, and as to what you argue, why two dippings, [the answer is,] that there may be a distinction for [the sake of] the children. And should you say, if so, we should be informed about other vegetables: If we were informed about other vegetables I would say: Only where other vegetables [are eaten first] do we require two dippings, but lettuce alone6 does not require two dippings: hence he informs us that even lettuce [alone] requires two dippings, so that there may be a distinction [shown] therewith for the children. Moreover, it was taught: If he ate them [the bitter herbs] while demai, he has discharged [his duty]; if he ate them without intention, he has discharged [his duty]; if he ate them, in half quantities, he has discharged [his duty], providing that he does not wait between one eating and the next more than is required for the eating of half [a loaf]? -it is [dependent on] Tannaim. For it was taught, R. Jose said: Though he has [already] dipped the lettuce [hazereth], it is a religious requirement to bring lettuce and haroseth and two dishes before him. Yet still, whence [does this food]: perhaps R. Jose holds [that] mitzvot do not require intention and the reason that we require two dippings is that there may be a distinction [shown] for the children?- If so, what is the ‘mitzvah?’

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