Basheret: Chayei Sarah 5775 by Cantor Lipp

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 9:59am -- lcanfield

During the final episode of Community, Abed, says to Annie who is suffering an emotional dilemma: “I don’t know people but I know TV.” He proceeds to explain how she will regain her emotional sanity through the hidden rules and formulae of TV drama.

Beshert is a long standing Jewish value. It was meant to be. They were meant to meet. It was written in the stars. Fate. Kismet. It’s the Jewish version of knowing the universe, a behind-the-scenes pulling the curtains on the great Wizard in the sky.

The first Biblical story to illustrate that value is Avraham sending his servant to find a match for his son Isaac.

The servant, who, according to many commentators, pulling the veil aside in their own way, has a vested interest in failing (because if he fails, perhaps Isaac will be available as a suitor for his own daughter), sets up a test. He says the first young woman to grant his wish for a sip of water and continue, unasked, to water his 10 camels will be clearly a sign from God that she is Isaac’s beshert.

Lo and behold, Rebekkah, Isaac’s cousin, appears, and fulfills the mission as stipulated. 

The traditional commentary of Breisheet Rabbah notes an unusual textual variation and sees that when Rebekkah first goes for water, the water miraculously jumps into her jug all by itself! That’s how the servant knows to ask her for water.

Rav Yechezkel from Kosmir asks, if he already saw the miracle of the water, why did he need to verify her with the test? The answer is that one act of kindness is worth 100 miracles.

Furthermore, it is evidence of Einstein’s credo that success equals 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

But how do Torah rules differ from TV rules? In TV rules we need to like the protagonist and at least be able to justify any missteps he or she may take. According to TV rules, Rebekkah didn’t perspire nor smell. She’s the beshert after all.

According to Torah rules, she better have, she’s going to have to take on healing a broken Isaac and run his life for him.

Our weekly pulling of the curtains to see the subtext is intended to tinker with the machinery to get it to work better. Our shabbat pulling of those curtains is to enjoy how they work, to study them, to sing about them, to celebrate them.

Shabbat Shalom.

David Lipp

Hazzan