by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Parashas Chayei Sarah (75)Genesis 24:58
"They called Rebecca and said to her "Will you go with this man?' She said: 'I will go.'"
She said: "I will go." RASHI: Of my own accord. Even if you do not want [me to].
A Question: Rashi emphasizes Rebecca's obstinacy. She says she will go even if they oppose her decision. But how does Rashi know that this is what she means? From where does Rashi derive this idea? It must have a basis in the text otherwise he wouldn't have made the comment. What is he sensitive to?
WHAT IS BOTHERING RASHI?
A Suggested Answer: The Mizrachi, a famous commentator on Rashi's commentary, says the conclusion is derived from the fact that Rebecca did not say simply "yes" ("kain." Or "hain"). Because she used the word "aileich" "I will go," this shows her decisiveness.
But there is a difficulty with Mizrachi's explanation. For we never find the Hebrew word "kain" in the Tanach meaning "yes" as we do in modern Hebrew. It usually means "thus" which would not be appropriate here. The word "hain," on the other hand, is used once (Genesis 30:34) where Rashi says the words means "agreement."
But maybe we can find a better explanation of Rashi' comment.
RASHI'S MIDRASHIC SOURCE
Another Answer: Actually, Rashi's source is in the midrash. There a Rav Yitzchak says: "They hinted to her: "Will you go?" "Will you go?" And she answered "I am going even against your will."
What does the midrash mean "they hinted to her"? In order to better understand the midrash, see what the previous verse (24:57) says: "They said 'Let us call the young woman and ask her." They had said they would ask her, but instead they tried to put things in her mouth. Ordinarily, asking would be: "Do you want to go with this man?" But asking "Will you go with this man?" has the sound of a rhetorical question. It implies, "It is not wise to go with him."
Rashi's comment is in reaction to this subtlety.
This seems to be the basis for the midrash's assumption that Rebecca was forthright and adamant in her answer. In spite of her father and brother's hint that she refuse to go with Abraham's servant, Rebecca immediately accepted the offer.
The midrash and Rashi are both highly sensitive to innuendos in conversations in the Torah. As another example of this, see the beginning of this sedra where Abraham wisely picked up Efron's phony display of graciousness. Abraham's ear understood that it was all showmanship and he readily accepted Efron's high-priced offer.
The Torah's understated style nevertheless conveys a wealth of the subtlety regarding human reactions.
Dr. Bonchek is publishing a new book on Rashi, called "Rashi: the magic and the Mystery" . It has a biography of Rashi & his special character traits. And outlines clearly Rules for interpreting Rashi in depth. We are looking for dedications to help publish this book. Those interested, please contact Avigdor Bonchek at Drbonchek@gmail.com.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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