Contemplating Hebrew Letters | Resh

20
resh

hkbr
Rivka
(Rebecca)

 

    And when the time came for [Rebecca] to give birth, behold! There were twins in her womb. The first one emerged red, entirely like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. After that his brother emerged with his hand grasping on to the heel of Esau; so he called his name Jacob. . . . The lads grew up and Esau became one who knows hunting, a man of the field; but Jacob was a wholesome man, abiding in tents. Isaac loved Esau for he ate of his venison, but Rebecca loved Jacob.

Genesis 25:24–28

The matriarch Rebecca is one of the most highly developed female characters in the Bible, and she’s also one of the most powerful. Discovered at a young age by Abraham’s servant Eliezer, she’s recognized immediately as the destined mate for Isaac. Because of her intuitive kindness, Rebecca draws water for Eliezer and his camels before even being asked—for this, Eliezer offers to bring her back to Canaan to become the wife of Isaac. She immediately accepts and leaves her home, even though she’s barely out of childhood and has never met Isaac.

The one characteristic that follows Rebecca throughout her life is her amazing sense of clarity. From the moment she sees Eliezer, she knows what to do; and when she first sees Isaac in the distance, after a long journey, she immediately senses who he is—not just another stranger encountered along the way, but her life partner.

After she and Isaac are married, Rebecca is barren for 20 years. When she finally does conceive, she has a difficult pregnancy and seeks out the reason for her troubles. She asks God directly why she’s in so much pain, and He replies that she’s carrying twins who are at war with one another even in the womb. This rivalry, she’s told, will last as long as they live, but in the end the younger twin will triumph over the older one. Rebecca will keep this information to herself for years, but ultimately it will guide her behavior as a mother and become the basis for her future actions.

As the boys grow up, Esau, the elder, becomes a brute of a man, interested in hunting, women, and food; whereas Jacob, the younger, is more domesticated, bookish, and kind. Rebecca knows that although Isaac favors Esau, Jacob is the one who is destined to be the next in line spiritually; so when her husband is ready to pass on the blessing of the firstborn, which holds enormous spiritual power, Rebecca creates an elaborate scheme that changes history. She convinces Jacob to lie to his blind father, dress up in Esau’s clothing, bring him venison as his brother would, and trick Isaac into giving him the blessing that will establish him as the dominant patriarch of his generation.

We’re told that Rebecca does this not just because she favors one son over the other, but because she knows in no uncertain terms what should happen—that is, what is fair and right according to the prophecy she’s received. Rebecca does all she can to actively change destiny, to act with confidence and ensure that Jacob is blessed. In this way, she makes sure that the prophecy she hears when she’s pregnant is fulfilled, and that the line of righteous men continues with Jacob.

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The letter Resh represents the rosh, the head. Rebecca is able to think logically and clearly and come up with solid, useful plans to do what’s best for her family. After she secures the birthright for Jacob, she is able to see that Esau is violent enough to potentially kill his brother when he finds out what has happened, and she devises a plan in which Jacob goes to live with her brother Laban (where, incidentally, he will meet his future wives, Rachel and Leah).

Although her circumstances are difficult and she has to play one son against the other and deceive her husband, Rebecca knows with complete certainty what needs to happen in order for everyone to fulfill their true destiny.

The Resh comes to those in need of clarity. Life is confusing, and often many paths compete for the taking. There is often more than one way to go, but from time to time we need to make definite, binding decisions.

Clarity need not be achieved only through prophecy—you can gain the ultimate knowledge all by yourself. But however you attain it, once something is clear in your mind, in the front of your consciousness, be careful not to waver from it.

Learn from Rebecca that you can change what seems to be set in stone. Your lot in life need not be the one given to you at birth— you need only be sure of yourself, and you can become whatever you need to be.

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