By Rabbi Raymond Beyda
When Ribkah Imenu became pregnant it should have been cause or joy and
celebration. After all, she and her husband our Patriarch Yitzhak had
prayed fervently for years for a child and now one was soon to be born.
Instead her joy quickly turned to despair. Whenever she passed a house of
idol worship the baby kicked in an attempt to leave its mother’s womb.
Similarly, whenever she passed a holy place of worship the pains of a
fetus pushing to exit its mother’s womb stuck her like a knife. “If this
is so why should I live?” she said in despair.
She sought the advice of the wise men of the generation in the Yeshivah of
Shem and Ever. “Don’t worry”, they responded, “there are two nations in
your womb.” She was comforted by this reply and with new resolve accepted
her condition and persisted until the twins were born.
Knowing that 2 infants were inside of her did not make the pain any less
severe nor did it change the pressure when she passed one type of house of
worship or the other. Why was she comforted?
Our sages explain that Ribkah thought that only one child was in her womb
and that fetus was a split personality. It had, she believed, a very wicked
side and very good side also. Such a child, she felt, could not be a
building block of the Jewish people. The commitment needed to become loyal
servants of the Supreme Being would always be lacking in such an
The wicked King Ahab and his vicious Queen Izebel pursued Elyahu Hanavi for
years attempting to kill him and eliminate along with him any remnants of
true prophecy. They preferred that the Jewish people serve idols and follow
the false teachings of the prophets of the Baal. Elyahu Hanavi suggested a
decisive test at Har HaCarmel. A bull would be put on an alter and the one
whose prayers would be answered by a heavenly fire would be declared the
true prophet. After thousands had gathered around the contest area Elyahu
proposed, “ How long will you all sway back and forth philosophically. If
Hashem is the true G-d – serve Him and if the Baal is the true Creator
In the end Hashem was proven to be the real G-d and the people cried out
“Hashem is the King – Hashem is the God.”
The question is: How could Elyahu Hanavi, the true prophet of G-d even
suggest that everyone abandon Hashem if the Baal would win the contest.
Could he possibly truly mean to serve the idol?
The answer is Elyahu was teaching the people that G-d expects us to loyally
commit to His service. Swinging back and forth may be o k for politics but
it certainly not allowed when it comes to religion. A person may justify in
one’s own mind many contradictory verses. But – implied Elyahu –
commitment – total dedication to one power – is the true way to succeed in
the world of the spirit. Similarly, when Ribkah thought she had a
schizophrenic child in her womb she felt that life was not worth living.
When she was told that she was to have twins - one child all good and one
child all bad - she was able to accept her fate.
Today – more than ever – one must declare for himself or herself about
schools, shuls and other organizations as to how loyal one is to G-d and
how the future can bring, Being two faced in a time when unity is at risk
is much worse than clearly choosing the side of bad. One must not be fence
sitter – one instead must choose one’s side and declare one’s positions.
Loyalty to g-d will be paid and disloyalty will be punished. Arise from
your slumber and declare for Hashem – totally – purely.
Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Raymond Beyda and Torah.org.