Of Water and Words

In this week’s parsha, Parshas Chayei Sarah, Sarah Imainu dies and is buried in the Me’aras Ha’Machpela.  The Torah then records, in great and precise detail, the quest for the next matriarch who would become the wife of righteous Yitzchak.

Avraham sent his faithful servant, Eliezer, back to his homeland to find the perfect match.  The girl would have to prove herself to be a ba’alas chesed, one who performs acts of loving kindness for others, in order to be worthy of becoming our second foremother. 

As evening falls, Eliezer and his camels meet Rivka at the well, where she has come to draw water.  Would she give him to drink, would she give his camels to drink, would she be “the one”? 

And with mounting excitement, Eliezer says to the girl: הַגְמִיאִינִי נָא מְעַט-מַיִם מִכַּדֵּךְ, Let me sip, please, a little water from your jug (Bereishis 24:17).  She, of course, agrees, and offers to give his camels water as well.

It is truly a match made in heaven…

Let us focus for a moment on the request of Eliezer: הַגְמִיאִינִי נָא מְעַט-מַיִם…Interesting choice of words from the faithful servant of Avraham Avinu, whom Avraham trusted with all.

The Sages tell us that on the day that Avraham sat at the entrance to his tent, awaiting passerby to bring them into his home, he first sent Eliezer out to see if there were people he could bring into his tent (Bava Metzia 86b).  It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that Eliezer was there when the guests/angels came upon Avraham.  And what is the first thing Avraham offered to his guests?  יֻקַּח-נָא מְעַט-מַיִם – Let a little bit of water be brought, please (Bereishis 18:4).  Surely, Eliezer heard Avraham’s generous offer of water, rest and food.  How did Avraham speak?  Pleasantly, kindly, and with respect:

יֻקַּח-נָא מְעַט-מַיִם

And how did Eliezer speak?  Pleasantly, kindly and with respect:

הַגְמִיאִינִי נָא מְעַט-מַיִם

Nothing in our Torah is by accident, and the fact that the utterance of Eliezer mirrors the utterance of Avraham is no mistake.  Eliezer served a tzadik and learned from him.  Even when Avraham was “simply” offering water to his guests, his words were measured, precise and appropriate.  And Eliezer, ever the faithful steward, was always listening, watching and learning. 

The take-home lesson is profound.  We must be ever cognizant of the words and utterances that leave our mouths, for we must always assume that others are listening, watching and learning from all that we say, be it simple speech or profound words of wisdom.  And who knows the day when what they learn from us is how they will interact with others…?

Let a little bit of water be brought, pleaseLet me sip please, a little bit of water from your jug.

Master and servant, teacher and student, parent and child.  The power of the spoken word is astounding.

Of her husband, R’ Kalman Ze’ev Levine HY”D, his wife, Rebetzin Chaya, said: “When it came to bein adam l’chavairo (interaction between man and fellow man), he used speech to connect to people and to build people up; he never used it for cutting people down or hurting them.  He was against using nicknames and never told a joke at the expense of another person or group.  He only spoke well of others and refused to speak negatively about anyone.  Because he was so committed to speaking only well of others, it trained him to think only well of others, so that over time it became natural for him.

“He believed in the goodness (of others) and never gave up on his talmidim, his children, or anyone else…He greeted people with a smile.  He was accurate in his speech and did not lie.  He never revealed things told to him in private.  He just never spoke about people.” 

Every moment in life is a lesson.  We are taught and we learn, we watch and we act, we contemplate and we do.

יֻקַּח-נָא מְעַט-מַיִם, said the master; הַגְמִיאִינִי נָא מְעַט-מַיִם, said the student.

The message is loud and clear: speak to others the way you want those around you to speak. 

One talmid recalls that R’ Moshe Twersky HY”D “would drop a little comment here and there if he felt we could be doing more or learning more, but always in a positive way.”

“I might have ended (this tribute),” wrote a talmid of R’ Moshe Twersky’s, “with the words, ‘The rebbeh is not here anymore – who can replace him?’ but I can hear him exclaiming, ‘What do you mean?  Each and every one of you can be just like me, if not greater!’” 

As we commemorate the first yarzheit of the Har Nof Kedoshim, we daven for the day when:

(ומחה ה׳ דמעה מעל כל פנים, וחרפת עמו יסיר מעל כל הארץ (ישעיהו כה:ח – And it will be, in the long awaited end of days, that Hashem will wipe away the tears from upon every face, and the shame of His people He will remove from upon the earth. 

May it be immediate and in our days, amen v’amen

בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,

  • Debbie Friedman
    Posted at 10:52h, 06 November

    Beautiful words, as usual.

    Have a good Shabbos.

  • Marla
    Posted at 12:48h, 06 November

    What a wonderful way to prepare for shabbat , Reading your beautiful words . Shabbat shalom!