A new study by Barclays Wealth released this week reveals that more than a third of “high-net-worth” people have serious reservations about the ability of their beneficiaries to handle their inheritance. Some are ambivalent, and others just plain don’t trust their children or stepchildren to protect their fortune. After burying his wife, Avraham turns his attention to his last real earthly concern–his legacy. He commissions his attendant to go back to the homestead in Mesopotamia in search of a suitable wife for Yitzhak. The Torah tells us (Genesis 24:1) that Avraham is of advanced age and remarkably blessed by God–that is to say, he’s rich. Rabbi Ovadyah Seforno (Italy, 16th century) explained that Avraham was worried that he would be a victim of gold-digging by families of prospective brides, and didn’t trust any of the locals. So he has his attendant look for a daughter-in-law in the one gene pool that might meet Avraham’s moral expectations–his own family.
On one level, Avraham is concerned because Yitzhak remains single. But thoughts of a simple marriage and the offspring it might produce aren’t reassuring him. Maybe that’s because he has little confidence in his son. He knows he has to pull some strings so as not to waste everything he has built, both the financial and spiritual elements of his fortune. Going forward, we will see that those concerns were justified, since Yitzhak will favor Esav over Ya’akov, contrary to the Divine plan.
The servant’s trip east is productive; he comes home with Rivkah. But she’s more than just a pretty face. She may well be a link in the chain, the perfect successor to Avraham that Yitzhak could never be.
Can you find clues that Rivkah is the female version of her father-in-law?
What do you think of Avraham’s manipulation of Yitzhak’s future?
We’ll talk about these questions on Shabbat morning.
Rabbi David Wise