While Hashem answered the prayers of Yitzchak Avinu as a tzaddik ben tzaddik, Rivka Imeinu saved Am Yisrael (and the world) by understanding who Esav really was & arranged for Yaakov to receive the blessings of the firstborn.
Rivka Imeinu grew up with an evil, greedy, manipulative father in a society dark with the occult—with her father, Lavan, being one of the leading occultists.
Yet she managed to not only realize the wrongness of her upbringing, but transform herself to turn out completely differently than her family & background.
True, she merited help along the way. She grew up hearing about Avraham Avinu & Sara Imeinu (who merited fame in ancient Mesopotamia), knowing they were her relatives.
It seems her nursemaid, Devorah, also influenced Rivka positively.
But Rivka needed to accomplish the main work herself.
And she achieved the opposite extreme of her father.
Where Lavan was evil, Rivka epitomized pure goodness.
Where Lavan was greedy & manipulative, Rivka excelled in loving-kindness & seeking to fulfill the needs of others in any way imaginable.
Where Lavan relied on the gruesome dark occult, Rivka clung to the Purity & Oneness of Hashem—without elaborate rituals, but only her lips & heart.
And even though Yitzchak Avinu's merit of tzaddik ben tzaddik brought the fulfillment of their prayers for children...Rivka Imeinu's merit as tzaddik ben rasha, a person born into a corrupt society & flawed upbringing—THAT enabled her to identify the real Esav and to take action to rescue the future.
Swimming against the Current Makes You a Stronger Swimmer
It doesn't mean we all respond perfectly.
It doesn't mean we don't have down times & failures & times when everything we do feels so dry & lifeless.
That bare fact of us making any effort at all to be different than our society & our upbringing—THAT matters to Hashem more than the visible accomplishments measured by the standards of whatever society we find ourselves in.
That effort matters even more to Hashem than our feelings about the effort.
Just like Esav looked more accomplished & impressive than Yaakov Avinu...
Esav strode out into the fields to hunt the choicest meat for his father. He prepared the food in the most delectable way & always donned his finest clothes before entering the presence of his father. In a sincere desire to feel pious & good, Esav asked his father all sorts of probing questions regarding Torah Law.
Yes, Esav LOOKED like the ideal son.
Esav acted the part to perfection.
Esav also felt great about himself & his actions. He enjoyed giving his father so much honor!
But it was quiet, introspective, non-flashy Yaakov whom Hashem saw & chose.
Could Rivka Imeinu have become who she became & accomplished what she accomplished had she grown up among tzaddikim?
She would've been great, of course...but apparently not as great as she became.
How do we know?
Because Hashem gave her exactly the flaws & dysfunction she needed in order to become one of the most outstanding people who ever lived.
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