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וַתֵּרֶד הָעַיְנָה וַתְּמַלֵּא כַדָּהּ וַתָּעַל
She went down to the spring, filled her jug and went up (24:16)
As soon as Eliezer finished praying to Hashem requesting help to find a wife for Yitzchak, he saw Rivkah taking water from the well. Since our verse does not mention that Rivkah “drew” water from the well, only that she “filled her jug,”[1] the Medrash understands that the water miraculously rose up to her. However, when Rivkah offered water to Eliezer and all of his entourage, she had to struggle and physically draw the water for them — a mammoth task considering that Eliezer brought with him at least ten camels![2]

Surely, if Rivkah was worthy of water miraculously rising up to her instead of having to go down and get it, would it not have been more preferable for her to have received this miracle when she went to get water for Eliezer and all of his camels instead?

The Kedushas Levi answers that Rivkah was worthy of having water rise up for her every time she wanted to get water for herself. However, once she decided to perform a mitzvah, Hashem allowed her to gain even greater reward by letting her struggle. This concept is based on the Mishna in Pirkei Avos which says, “According to the effort is the reward.”[3] We find this concept with all mitzvos, but it is most prevalent regarding Torah study where Avos D’Rebbe Nosson says that the reward for learning Torah through hardship is a hundred times greater than learning undisturbed![4]

This teaching was the basis for the Chofetz Chaim’s praise of one of his newer students one morning. “Tell me,” said the Chofetz Chaim, “how many pages of Gemora have you learned so far in this yeshiva?”
Looking down, the student sheepishly answered, “Three”

“Three hundred!” responded the Chofetz Chaim with pride and joy.

“Emm, no Rebbe, just three!” the boy responded, thinking that the Chofetz Chaim had misheard him originally.

“No my son,” said the Chofetz Chaim, taking the boy’s hands in his. “We’re told that learning through hardship is worth a hundred times learning without. And no one here has suffered more hardship than you. So, although you may have only learned three pages, its real worth is three hundred pages!”

We get an appreciation from here that if we truly knew the reward we would receive for every moment of learning Torah or every mitzvah that we undertake through difficult circumstances, we would all but ask for the hardship! Of course, we do not wish difficulty upon ourselves,[5] but if Hashem has chosen that this is the situation we find ourselves in, we should look positively upon it and embrace it as an opportunity to achieve far greater reward than if we were not put in this difficult situation.

[1] Bereishis, 24:16.
[2] Bereishis Rabbah, 60:5. The Ramban (Bereishis 24:17) explains that the Medrash understood this because in the verse where Rivkah was providing for her own needs, there is no mention of “drawing the water,” but when Rivkah provides for Eliezer and his accompaniment, the verse specifically says that she “drew the water” for them (Bereishis 24:20).
[3] Pirkei Avos, 5:22.
[4] Avos D’Rebbe Nosson, 3:6 describes this precept regarding Torah learning; however the Chofetz Chaim explains that he is in fact referring to all mitzvos and when one prevents himself from sinning (Sefer Chofetz Chaim, Hilchos Issurei Loshon Hara, 1:7).
[5] Sanhedrin 107a.

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