Parshat Chayei Sarah – 5780 – Yissochor Wartell
Nothing New Under the Sun
In this week’s parshah, when Eliezer sees Rivka appear, she appears with a jug on her shoulder, as the Torah writes “המכש לע הדכו …תאצי הקבר הנהו” (“And behold Rivka went out…and a jug was upon her shoulder”). And again, when Eliezer is telling the story to Rivka’s family, he states: “המכש לע הדכו תאצי הקבר הנהו” (“And behold Rivka went out and a jug was upon her shoulder”). Although Eliezer changes numerous parts of what transpired (for various reasons, beyond this scope of this dvar), these words and phrases are identical in both instances.
Although Rivka was the progenitor or the Jewish People, she gave birth to both Yaakov and Eisav. Many Jewish sources, especially those of a mystical nature, align Eisav and his descendants with the sun, whereas Yaakov and the Jewish People are connected to the moon. It is interesting that the appearance of Rivka actually seems to allude to both of these. She appeared with ‘הדכ’ (kada – her jug), upon ‘המכש’ (shichma – her shoulder). The word המכש (shichma) is numerically equal to 365, the number of ‘solar’ days, or the revolution of the Earth around the sun. The word הדכ (kada) is numerically equal to 29, the approximate number of days in a lunar month. Even more intriguing is the fact that the words preceding “המכש לע הדכו” (v’kada al shichma – and a jug was upon her shoulder), are the words “תאצי הקבר הנהו” (“And behold, Rivka went out). These words are numerically equal to “ חריהו שׁמשה” (The sun and the moon).
So, one could, in a sense, re-arrange this pasuk to say “הקבר תאצי הנהו” (“And behold, that which came out of Rivka”) – the kada (Yaakov/ the Jewish People) and the shichma (Eisav / Edom). However, why is a solar ‘year’ ascribed to Eisav whereas a lunar ‘month’ is ascribed to Yaakov? One answer could be that Eisav’s descendants, the Western world and much of the world overall, see the world overall as a year as the main entity and the month as more of a practical subdivision. However, the Jewish People go by the particular month and what it contains rather than the function of the (lunar) year. It is Tishrei – time for the high Holidays and Sukkot, it is Nissan -a time for Pesach and rebirth, etc…
A second reason could be surmised by the root of the words themselves. The word for ‘year’ is shana, which can either mean to repeat/do twice or it can mean to change. What will a new year bring? The same as last year or a change? This concept is definitely relevant to Jews as well, but more often, we are focused upon the chadash (new), the root of the word for month – Chodesh. We always strive for change, to make something new, to grow to create. Kohelet repeatedly writes ein chadash tachat hashemesh – ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, because the chadash is the chodesh, which is under the moon.
And as long as we remember who we are Jews and to constantly strive to grow and develop, to better ourselves as we live in Hashem’s ways, then we can be the kada (jug) al (on top of) shichma (the shoulder) – we, the Jewish People, who are connected primarily to the moon, can rise above and be al (on top of), those who are only connected to the sun (Eisav), so that we can prosper and succeed until the coming geulah and final clarity and redemption of Moshiach.