Parshas Chayei Sarah
The Basis Of Yitzchak's Love for Rivka
Finding the right mate has always been a complicated and potentially
hazardous matter. It remains so today. Just ask any parent in our current
society who has marriageable age children and you will, in all probability,
hear a tale of angst and frustration about the inequities of life and the
illogic of it all. In this week’s parsha, Avraham faces the task of finding
a wife for Yitzchak. His main concern is that the prospective bride be from
his extended family and not from the Canaanite women.
Jewish tradition has always viewed the family as being an important
component in choosing a proper mate. Though family certainly cannot be the
only criterion, it certainly is an important one. The rabbis taught us that
the speech and language of a child is always a reflection of the speech and
language of the father and mother of that child. People who are raised in
serene and loving home environments, homes of tradition and Jewish values
usually grow up to be serene, self-confident and proud Jews.
Children who are raised in dysfunctional family environments have great
hurdles to overcome to achieve self-worth and a productive life. Both the
Canaanites and Avraham’s family in Aram were pagans. But Avraham’s family
had the stability and a minimum code of morality, traits that were lacking
in the more permissive and licentious Canaanite society. This was the curse
of the Canaanite society and Avraham felt that this factor would be
impossible to ever truly overcome.
Eliezer, the loyal servant of Avraham, adds another requirement to the
search for the mate of Yitzchak. Innate kindness and goodness and the
willingness to sacrifice one’s own comforts for the sake of others is part
of the makeup of Yitzchak, He was raised in a house where concern for the
welfare of others was the everyday norm. A husband and wife have to be on
the same page when it comes to this issue.
I recall that in my years as a rabbi there were husbands and wives that
would bring to me money to distribute to the needy of the community and
caution me not to allow their respective spouse to become aware that they
had done so. Sometimes there were halachic or overriding family issues
present that even forced me not to accept the donation. But I was always
saddened by such situations.
Eliezer’s testing of Rivkah was correctly done in order to spare the couple
possibly ruinous disputes in their future life together. And since in the
house of Avraham and Sarah kindness of spirit and generosity of action and
behavior were the fundamental norms of their family life, only a spouse that
also espoused those ideals could bring to Yitzchak happiness and serenity.
The Canaanite society that tolerated and even exalted the societies of Sodom
and Amorah could not produce a suitable mate for Yitzchak. The Torah tells
us that Yitzchak loved Rivkah. Love is based on character traits and shared
values and not only on physical beauty and attraction. That is what makes
its achievement so elusive for so many.
Rabbi Berel Wein