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    Eliezer & the camels – Chayyei Sarah

    Water for the camels plays a large part in this week’s Torah reading.

    Eliezer & Rebekah at the well, by Gustave Dore

    Eliezer needed a way of testing Rivkah’s character. If she had been a less ethical person she would not have given him water to drink but would have said, as Abravanel tells us, “You are thirsty? You are standing by the well – take some water!”

    She would also not have thought of his camels and the large amounts of water that they needed. She was a kind person and turned her kindness into action.

    When Eliezer told the story to the family he toned down her words and actions as he perceived that the family were not on her level of ethics.

    They thought it was the ultimate in stupidity to put animals before human beings, but she realised that the animals depended on the humans as their source of food.

    The family on the other hand were eager to get a good husband for Rivkah and they did not want to affect the marital prospects by giving the impression that Rivkah was so stupid as to put animal welfare first.

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