This week’s Torah portion is “Chayei Sara” (Genesis 23:1-25:18), and among the many exciting episodes it contains, we read about the search for a wife for Isaac.
It was time to find a wife for Isaac. Since there were no suitable girls in the area where Abraham and his family lived, Abraham sent his servant Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac back in their old hometown of Haran.
Eliezer certainly didn’t have it easy. It was the hardest spiritually driven mission ever given to anyone: to find a wife for the second Patriarch of the Jewish people. Who wouldn’t want to marry him? He had the looks, the bucks, the pedigree, the Lord, and the future. The girls would be lining up for a date. The screening process for the “applicants” would have to be rigorous. It is interesting to note that one of the reasons that Eliezer was sent to find a wife for Isaac, and not Isaac himself, is because Isaac was the first Jew to be born in the land of Israel, and as such, he was never to leave it. Indeed, there are many righteous Israelis who try to be like Isaac and never leave the land of Israel.
Before Eliezer left on his mission, Abraham made him swear that he would only bring back a nice girl from a good family, Abraham’s extended family. He was told that if he didn’t find the right girl, better to come back without anyone than with a less-than-ideal-woman. Eliezer set off, packed with all types of gifts for the prospective girl and her family.
On the way to Haran, Eliezer decided to ask God for some help in his mission. He something that goes like this” “God, do me a favor: When I get to Haran, I am going to ask the first girl I meet at the well for a drink. If she replies that she will give me a drink, as well as all my camels, then that will be the sign for You that she is the one for Isaac.”
And so it was. It played out exactly as Eliezer requested. Eliezer ran to the first girl he saw at the well. The girl was Rebecca, who became Isaac’s wife and the second Matriarch of the Jewish people.
We are told that Eliezer “ran” to greet Rebecca. It is explained that the reason he ran was because he saw that a miracle was performed for Rebecca. When she went to draw water, the water actually rose towards her! When Eliezer saw this, he realized that this girl must be someone special to merit such a miracle, and, as such, he ran to her to see if she was the one.
The question is asked: If Eliezer saw that a miracle occurred for this girl, why did he still go through with the charade with asking for a drink and waiting to see if she would give the camels as well? It should have been obvious that this was a holy girl! It is also noted that when Eliezer told everyone how great and holy Rebecca was, there was no mention of the miracle of the rising water.
It is explained that although miracles are important, a person can’t rely on them. Sure, we all experience God’s miracles from time to time. We know they’re there, but we never know when they will be sent to us. Eliezer knew that miracle or no miracle, he had to ensure that this girl had sterling character traits and would be willing to give a drink not only to him, but also to his camels.
The message is clear. When looking for a marriage partner, don’t look for a miracle, look for good ol’ fashioned values and character traits. That, and only that, will ensure you found the right spouse!
By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel