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The Posuk says (Gen. 25:22) regarding Rivka:

וַיִּתְרֹצֲצוּ הַבָּנִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ וַתֹּאמֶר אִם כֵּן לָמָּה זֶּה אָנֹכִי וַתֵּלֶךְ לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת יְ־הֹוָ־ה

Translated as: And the children struggled within her, and she said, "If [it be] so, why am I [like] this?" And she went to inquire of the Lord.

Rashi comments on this:

ותלך לדרוש: לבית מדרשו של שם

Translated as: And she went to inquire - to the academy of Shem.

The question is why go to Shem and not Avraham or Yitzchok, and what happened to Eiver?

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I don't remember it (which is why I'm not posting it as an answer), but I seem to recall once reading an answer to this question that was based on the Radak to I Sh'muel 9:9. Anyone know it? – msh210 Nov 22 '11 at 7:10
Found an answer Here: havolim.blogspot.com/2009/11/… – simchastorah Nov 23 '11 at 2:01
@msh210: looks like it's the Netziv's answer given in the blog post that simchashatorah linked below. – Alex Nov 23 '11 at 21:03
@Alex, ah, thank you. – msh210 Nov 23 '11 at 22:12
  • The Gur Aryeh (Bereshit 25:27) writes that when making a halachic inquiry, you don't go to a lesser Rabbi in place of the greater Rabbi. Since Shem was greater, she went only to him.

  • See the Toras Menachem in the Gutnik Chumash, where the Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that Rashi previously wrote that Shem was MalkiTzedek, high priest of G-d (Bereshit 14:18). Where did Rivka go to when "she went to inquire of the Lord."? She went to Shem, not in his capacity as a teacher, but in his capacity as the high priest of G-d. Therefore Ever was excluded.

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The midrash that I assume Rashi is quoting actually does say that she went to "מדרשו של שם ועבר". However, lower on that same page, it does identify Shem as the one who is the official navi (though not clear if it's talking about Rivka or Hagar). Interestingly, Abarbanel quotes the midrash as saying that she went to the beis midrash of Shem and Eiver, but it was Shem who told her the nevua.

Radak, however, writes that it could just as easily have been Avraham that Rivka went to. (See also the Abarbanel linked above, who writes that it is "more correct" to say that it was Avraham.)

As to why not Yitzchak, I would venture to say that we have no evidence that Yitzchak was capable of nevua at this point in his life (he lived one third of his life by this point). And even if he was, I'm not really surprised that she didn't go to him first. We don't find that Yitzchak and Rivka were the greatest of communicators. It seems evident that Rivka never told Yitchak what the navi told her about Eisav and Yaakov. Yitzchak and Rivka remained, according to the Torah, on completely separate wavelengths when it came to Yaakov and Eisav. But that is another question entirely.

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see here where a Tur Ha'Aruch is quoted as saying that she didn't want to distress Avraham with the news of a difficult pregnancy. books.google.com/… – Menachem Nov 22 '11 at 4:26
@Menachem: daat.ac.il/daat/vl/tohen.asp?id=164 – msh210 Nov 22 '11 at 20:45
Do you have a source for Yitzchak and Rivka's not being good communicators? The only thing I can think of that we know they didn't communicate on (at least according to many commentators) is Esav's being good or bad; extrapolating from that to a generality is a big step. That they didn't communicate much in chumash means nothing: chumash leaves out large swaths of history and biography. – msh210 Nov 22 '11 at 20:52
@msh210, Although I don't have an explicit source, I see several instances in which they did not communicate: (1) Rivka did not tell Yitzchak about her going to a navi, nor what the navi told her. (2) She did not tell Yitzchak anything negative about Eisav. (3) She did not tell Yiztchak that she thought he should give the b'rachos to Yaakov instead of Eisav, preferring instead to concoct a whole plan to trick him. (4) She did not tell Yitzchak that Eisav was harboring murderous feelings toward Yaakov, instead telling him that he should send Yaakov away to get married. – jake Nov 22 '11 at 23:22
Yeah, I sorta lumped those together as "Esav's being bad". :-D – msh210 Nov 22 '11 at 23:24

Rav Moshe Shapira explained this as part of a broader approach to the difference between the philosophy of Avraham and that of Shem.

To summarize, Shem was an ascetic, and believed in spirituality divorced from physicality. His Torah was the Torah of pure spirituality which does not involve the physicality. He is, therefore, the authority on the disconnect between spiritual heights and physical depravity. Therefore, Yaakov visited the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever on his way to Lavan (Rashi to Bereishis 28:11) - a Yeshiva in which one does not sleep (neglect of the body) - in order to understand the Torah of disconnected spirituality, as Lavan had a lofty neshama and was a miserable wretch.

Avraham, on the other hand, believed in spirituality which manifests itself in your every day life. His name was 248 in gematria corresponding to the 248 limbs which are involved in serving Hashem. Nimrod had Avraham thrown into a furnace but left Shem alone because Avraham's was a threatening philosophy but Shem's spirituality did not infringe on how they wanted to live their lives.

Rivka had a pregnancy which she believed to be one individual with very polar opposite pulls. When she walked by a Beis Medrash, Yaakov would start squirming to come out, and when she passed by a house of idolatry, Eisav would squirm to come out (Rashi to Bereishis 25:22). But she did not know that this was two diametrically opposite babies inside her until after she was given that answer - she thought it was one child with an extreme disconnect between his spirituality and the impact it would have on how he lived his life. Therefore, Shem was the Navi to consult.

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Sifte'i Ḥakhamim, commenting on the RaSh"I cited, states (my translation):

דאם לא כן ותדרוש את ה' מביעי ליה מאי ותלך והלא מלא כל הארץ כבודו ואין סברה שהלכה לבית מדרשו של עבר בזמן שהיה שם קיים דהוא היה בן בנו של שם. ואין לומר למה לא הלכה אצל אברהם שהרי גם הוא היה נביא. ויש לומר דהקב"ה סובב כן להעלים מאברהם ענין ההריון שלא יצטער שהרי מת אברהם קודם שיצא עשו לתרבות רעה כדי שתהא מיתתו בשיבה טובה.

Were it not so (i.e. that she went to the Be'it Midrash of Shem), she should have gone to plea in front of HaShem. Were that true, why would the Torah have written "and she went" (for "the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6:3))?. And there is no opinion that she went to the Be'it Midrash of 'Ever while Shem was still alive for he ('Ever) was the son of the son of Shem. It further cannot be opined that she went to Avraham (seeing as he, too, was a prophet). For it can be opined that HQB"H concealed the matter of [Rivqah's] pregnancy from Avraham so that he would not be pained, for Avraham died before 'Esau sought an evil culture, so that Avraham's death would be in pleasant, old age.

The practical lesson I learn from this - I have no direct source for such an interpretation - is that, at times, it is proper to conceal the truth from someone so as not to cause him or her harm. Rabbi Naftoly Bier once taught me that the opposite of Truth is not falsehood, but disunity.

We see a practical application of this when it comes to Leshon HaRa': it is forbidden to speak a factual truth that may harm or embarrass someone unless there is an unequivocal benefit in doing so (e.g. preventing others from crooked business dealings).

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I realize that Sifte'i Ḥakhamim does not address why she did not go directly to Yiẓḥaq. – Lee Nov 12 '15 at 11:20

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