Chayei Sarah


Believe it or not, the Torah has some really humorous moments. 

For instance, on first seeing Isaac, Rebecca falls off her camel and veils her face. I’m a lover of romantic comedies and this is the perfect “meet cute”. 

Imagine having ridden on a camel for weeks, perhaps months, to see your betrothed and before you have had a moment to freshen up your lipstick or consider a change of clothing, you are confronted by your future husband. 

His first sight of you cannot be travel-stained and sitting astride a smelly camel. The solution? Lean left, fall off (and perhaps out of sight) and cover your face. Unsurprisingly, the commentators don’t agree with me. 

Some commentators say this episode is a lesson in the observance of modesty in the face of a man. To me, with respect to the commentators notwithstanding, veils don’t really seem to be part of everyday garb in the Torah or among the other foremothers. In fact, the only other time we see a veil in Bereshit is on Tamar, when she disguises herself as a prostitute. 

The Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, died 1893) reads the incident of falling of the camel as a harbinger for Isaac and Rebecca’s future relationship. She is so blown over by his holiness that she falls off her camel, covers her face and, from that day forward, she will always be intimidated by her husband’s closeness to God and communication between them will be limited. 

Perhaps there is another way to view this story. “He [Isaac] lifted his eyes and saw… camels; Rebecca lifted her eyes, and saw Isaac”. Was this the first incidence of love at first sight? This is the only relationship in Bereshit for which the word “love” is employed. And in the manner of all good romantic comedies, she went weak at the knees and tumbled head-first into a relationship; and they lived — nearly — happily ever after.

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