Unaware she was carrying twins, Rivkah was concerned by the unpredictable movements in her womb. The Torah verse describes what she did to address this concern, but it does so with an ambiguous phrase. It says that she went “lidrosh et Hashem” – which, loosely translated, means that she went “to seek out the Almighty.” What did this seeking out entail, and how did she go about it? What does it refer to?
This seeking out is interpreted in two different ways by the classical commentaries. Rashi (1040 – 1105), following a Midrashic explanation, writes that she went to seek wisdom from Divinely inspired, elderly sages. She looked to Noah’s son Shem along with his great-great grandson Eber as sort of spiritual gurus that could shed light on her questions. The answer that she received, that she was carrying twins with opposing natures, was, according to this approach, a prophetic message delivered via these two sages. Nachmanides (1194 – 1270, also known as Ramban), based on comparison of the ambiguous phrase with the other instances that it is used throughout scripture, writes that Rivkah did not seek council from sages but rather prayed directly to God. According to this approach, the subsequent explanation of the unusual womb activity wasn’t delivered via an intermediary but was, rather, a prophecy communicated directly to her.
These explanations each teach valuable lessons about how one may effectively react to stress or uncertainty. To be successful, practically speaking, one must be able to reach out to those with greater and deeper wisdom and life experience. The humility required to admit one’s limitations and seek outside help can go a long way. In a similar but more spiritual vein, one that has the humility to see his or her challenges as reminders of God’s watchful presence will often be given the inner strength and wisdom to overcome them.