The children struggled within her. She said, "If [the pain of pregnancy is] so [much], why am I like this?" She went [to the Yeshivah of Sheim] to ask G‑d [what was going to happen to her].

-- Breshis 25:22

Classic Questions

How did Rivkah "ask G‑d" about her pregnancy? (v. 22)

Rashi: She went to the Yeshivah of Sheim. Sheim revealed to her what would happen through Divine inspiration (Rashi to v. 22-23).

Tur Ha'aruch: Why did Rivkah ask Sheim and not Avraham? Perhaps she did not wish to distress Avraham with the bad news that she was having a difficult pregnancy.

The Rebbe's Teachings

Why Did Rivkah Seek Sheim's Advice (v. 22)

Rashi writes that Rivkah went to the Yeshivah of Sheim to find an explanation as to why her pregnancy was so difficult. However, this raises the following questions:

  1. Why did she not ask her husband Yitzchak or her father-in-law Avraham? Surely, they both could have helped her equally as well as Sheim, and she would thereby avoid the undesirable journey, on her own, to the Yeshivah of Sheim?

  2. In many places, this Yeshivah is referred to as the Yeshivah of Sheim and Aiver. Why does Rashi describe it here only as the Yeshivah of Sheim?

The Explanation

Verse 22 states, "She went to ask G‑d." This suggests that she made some sort of journey. Obviously, this means that she did not ask Yitzchak, who was with her at home, or Avraham, who lived locally.

What led Rashi to conclude that she went to Sheim?

The Torah states earlier, "Malkitzedek King of Shaleim brought out bread and wine. He was a priest to the supreme G‑d" (14:18). Rashi explains that Malkitzedek was none other than Sheim.

Since the Torah describes Sheim as "a priest to the supreme G‑d," we could assume that Rivkah would have sought his advice when "she went to ask G‑d." I.e., she was not seeking to study Torah in the Yeshivah of Sheim and Aiver, but rather to "ask G‑d." Therefore, she sought the advice of Sheim in particular (and not Aiver) since he was "a priest to the supreme G‑d."

Why did Rivkah prefer to speak to Sheim over Yitzchak or Avraham?

Presumably, this was because either:

  1. She asked their advice first, but they failed to provide her with an explanation. Therefore she sought the advice of Sheim. Nevertheless, Rashi does not mention this point, as it is not hinted to at all in the Torah. 

  2. Or perhaps she did not want to mention the matter to Yitzchak or Avraham so as not to distress them. After so many years of waiting for Rivkah to become pregnant, Yitzchak (and Avraham) would surely have become pained to hear that "the children struggled inside her," causing her such distress that she regretted wanting to have children (v. 22).

In fact, for Yitzchak and Avraham, this state of affairs would have been particularly distressing, because it would have been reminiscent of the Akeida (binding of Yitzchak) where, after finally being given a son, Avraham was asked to slaughter him. So too here, after many years of praying for Rivkah to become pregnant, Yitzchak and Avraham would surely be devastated to hear that Rivkah was suffering from an extremely difficult pregnancy. So in order to save Yitzchak and Avraham from a challenge of faith resembling the Akeida, Rivkah sought the advice of Sheim instead.

(Based on Sichas Shabbos Parshas Toldos 5748)