Parashat Vayishlach (And he sent) Genesis 32:4-36:43
Haftarah: Obadiah 1-21
In this week’s Torah portion something struck me as most unusual. One learns that Deborah, the wet nurse of Rebecca, died. This information in and of itself is not that odd. However, when one remembers that this is the only place that Deborah is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, it should cause a person to ask why include this information at all? Usually the Scripture informs of a person’s death that is known previously, so why does HaShem want the reader to know that Deborah is dead; especially, when the Torah never states anything in regard to Rebecca’s death?
It is clear from the verse that mentions Deborah that she was beloved.
“And Deborah died, the wet nurse of Rebecca, and she was buried under BeitEl under the oak tree. And they called its name the oak tree of weeping.” Genesis 35:8
The fact that she is buried in such an important place, BeitEl, and there is an illusion to a great amount of weeping (אלון הבכות) reveals that Deborah must have been greatly loved and appreciated. The Hebrew phrase which I translated as “the oak tree of weeping” has the term weeping in the plural and refers to much mourning for Deborah. Some of the rabbinical commentators understand the use of the plural referring to not only the death of Deborah, but also the death of Rebecca. Because there is not any clear Biblical basis for this interpretation, it must be rejected. In returning to Deborah, the great amount weeping at her burial informs the reader of an important principle.
The accolades which one may or may not receive during his or her lifetime are not important. What is important is what a person does with life that G-d provides us. Deborah had a humble position, only a wet nurse, but the fact that HaShem caused her name to be written in the word of G-d and He related to the reader the weeping that accompanied her death, speaks volumes about her and what G-d thought of her.
At your death, what will be the people’s response? More importantly what will be Yeshua’s response? Will He say, “Well done My faithful servant” or will He have to wipe away your tears when He reveals what your life could have been? Deborah probably never did anything that would have caused her name to appear in the newspaper or have the nightly news do a report on her. But each year when one reads this parashah, he is caused to remember this simple woman and the great amount of weeping that surrounded her burial.
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