Chazal tell us that Yitzchak mourned for his mother three years. This is outstanding in that a person generally mourns for a spouse for 30 days and one year for a parent. There are different ideas about why Yitzchak mourned overtime. (Sarah passed away upon hearing that her only son was taken to the akeida.) What we do know is that he was finally consoled when Rivka came into his life. Rivka touches him, entering into his spirit to the quick. Yitzchak resembled his father, Abraham in a way that no-one could doubt their father-son relationship, the impression of Abraham’s face on his son’s, though internally they were profoundly different. One had active attributes, one passive. One held the domain of Chesed and one of Gevurah. Rivka resembled Sarah, Yitzchak’s mother, not only superficially, but profoundly in her core essence. In the way that Sarak knew who would build the nation of Israel, classified to Yitzchak, the refining process was done by her, Rivka knew this too. Sarah fought for the sole inheritor- Yitzchak (your son, your only son). Rivka does the same for Ya’akov, sifting out Esav. In these attributes Sarah and Rivka won the status of the deciding factor of who continues into the next generation of Judaism, the mother.
Rebecca is no pushover. Yes, she falls off the camel (out of being struck by “Cupid’s bow) but she demonstrates amazing strength when telling her parents she is leaving with the servant to join the family in Israel. Rivka leaves her homeland (following the traits of Abraham and Sarah). She has an objective but doesn’t realize that her role right now is to console the bereaved Yitzchak. Consolation (nechama) means moving from a state of emptiness and sadness into a feeling that life is filling up those empty places. Happiness is filling and sprouting new life. This is what Yitzchak felt on the day he met Rivka. This being the continuation of Sarah, his mother living in his wife. Therefore he took her to Sarah’s tent, and not Abraham’s (who was still alive).
Today, as we experience the “post akeida” of the holocaust and the sacrifices of the long bitter exile that left us scarred and bereaved. We are consoled with being returned to our land. But we cannot yet be content because again, two souls share the same womb. History repeats itself. The image of our Matriarchs fills up the barren and lifeless hills and dales. Our ancient cities are refortified. Thousands of children play in the streets. But we still do not know the peace of a New Jerusalem. It is time to remember Rebecca and Sarah, buried in Chevron. It is time to realize the lessons their lives have taught us. Their impression is ingrained in the torah and in us.
(much of this torah was influenced by the teachings of HaRav Yitzchak Shapira, shlita)
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith