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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Chayei Sarah: Dating Advice from the Parsha

What Avraham's and Eliezer's criteria for Yitzchak's prospective mate tell us about the priorities to seek in Shidduchim

ואשביעך בד' אלקי השמים ואלקי הארץ אשר לא תקח אשה לבני מבנות הכנעני אשר אנכי יושב בקרבו. כי אל ארצי ואל מולדתי תלך ולקחת אשה לבני ליצחק ויאמר אליו העבד אולי לא תאבה האשה ללכת אחרי אל הארץ הזאת ההשב אשיב את בנך אל הארץ אשר יצאת משם? ויאמר אליו אברהם השמר לך פן תשיב את בני שמה ד' אלקי השמים אשר לקחני מבית אבי ומארץ מולדתי ואשר דבר לי ואשר נשבע לי לאמר לזרעך אתן את הארץ הזאת הוא ישלח מלאכו לפניך ולקחת אשה לבי משם

And I will have you swear by Hashem, G-d of heaven and G-d of earth, that you not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell. Rather, to my land and to my kindred shall you go and take a wife for my son, for Yitzchok.

The servant said to him: “perhaps the woman shall not wish to follow me to this land: shall I take your son back to the land from which you departed?” Avraham answered him, ‘Beware not to return my son to there. Hashem, G-d of heaven, who took me from the house of my father and from the land of my birth; Who spoke concerning me, and Who swore to me saying ‘To your offspring will I give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there.

When Avraham imposes an oath upon Eliezer, herefers to Hashem as the "G-d of the heavens and earth". But when Avraham reassures Eliezer that Hashem will surely help him secure a wife for Yitzchok, he refers to Hashem only as the "G-d of the heavens".

Rashi explains that at the time of the oath, Hashem is already known to the world and indeed is the G-d of the heavens and the earth. However, at the time that Hashem took Avraham from his father’s house, He was not yet known, and was only the G-d of the heavens.

A nice idea. But, as we know, context matters. Why is the sending of Eliezer the chosen platform on which to teach this lesson, that Hashem is now known as also the G-d of the Earth?

Rav Elya Lopian zt”l makes an outstanding observation.

Yitzchak's prospective wife had to, understandably, meet strict requirements. Avraham was adamant about selecting a wife from his homeland, and Eliezer established a criterion centered around her commitment to acts of chesed. Interestingly, there is no explicit mention of assessing the prospective bride's level of Yiras Shamayim. This raises a crucial question: Despite her exceptional qualities as a doer of chesed, could any girl truly be a viable candidate if she lacked a belief in Hashem and genuine fear of heaven?

This episode, concludes Rav Elya, highlights the paramount importance of good character traits over all else. A person with a kind and gentle disposition, actively engaged in acts of kindness, is closer to serving Hashem than someone who has tremendous knowledge without refined midos. This explains Avraham's refusal to consider the daughters of Canaan due to their corrupt character, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Conversely, he sanctioned taking a spouse from his own family, even if they were presently idol worshippers, emphasizing the significance of positive character traits in the service of Hashem.

This is what Avraham was hinting to regarding Hashem. Now, Hashem is known on earth. But it wasn’t always like that! When Hashem took me out of my homeland, Hashem was not yet known, nevertheless, I was able to come to a knowledge, and bring the knowledge to the world, as long as the people were straight and upright, and willing to hear the truth and see the light.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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