Interestingly, Targum Yonasan ben Uziel interprets “molad’ti” – “my birthplace” – as “beis g’nisasi”, “the home of my family”, indicative of the fact that Avrohom instructed that Yitzchak’s wife be selected specifically from Avrohom’s own family. In fact, we find that Hashem had these plans from the start, when Avrohom was notified of Rivka’s birth upon his return from the Akeidah, so that Avrohom would pursue the match. (Rashi on 22:20 from Bereshis Rabbah 57:3)
It is true that the women of Cana’an were not suitable for Yitzchak and Yaakov. However, why was it necessary for these Avos to take spouses exclusively from their relatives in Charan? Would not other women who were not of the stock of Cana’an do?
Sparse traces of information may lead us to an answer.
We find that Terach, Avrohom’s idolatrous father, did Teshuva toward the end of his life. (Rashi on 15:15 from Bereshis Rabbah 30:4). Despite his legendary and forceful refusal to recognize the existence of the One God and his business of marketing polytheism, Terach eventually renounced his incorrect beliefs and practices and embraced the ideology of his son. Similarly, Haran, Avrohom’s deceased brother, adopted a belief in monotheism, albeit lacking total commitment. (Rashi on 11:28 from Bereshis Rabbah 38:13) Furthermore, even Lavan and Besuel appeared to be familiar and comfortable with the concept of the God of Avrohom, despite their personal proclivities for avodah zarah (idolatry). (See Bereshis ch. 24.) Perhaps most telling of all is that Rivka emerged from the home of her youth to become one of the Imahos (Matriarchs), blossoming with emunah in Hashem and an unswerving dedication to Torah values, as was the case with Sarah, her aunt, who came forth from the home of Haran, and Rochel and Leah, who were raised in Lavan’s house.
Although the beliefs and practices of much of the progeny of Terach which dwelled in Charan obviously left a lot to be desired, this progeny apparently had a latent, often hazy, belief in Hashem. The family which Avrohom left behind in Charan somehow fostered an underlying sense of emunah, which was manifest prominently in many members of the clan. It is for this reason that Avrohom insisted that Yitzchak’s wife be from his family in Charan, as was the case with the betrothal of Yaakov as well. The Avos knew that only women whose background was tinged with underlying sparks of emunah could readily assume the role of Imahos and passionately promulgate Torah values so as to fortify and build K’lal Yisroel.
Although we cannot and should not overlook the wrongdoing of those with whom we interact, we learn from Avrohom that a person’s inner potential must not be overlooked either. As intimated to him by God, Avrohom realized from the start that Rivka would be suited for Yitzchak, not merely because she was not from Cana’an, but because she embodied the potential for flourishing goodness and spiritual greatness which was latent in the progeny of Terach but was buried under idolatry and greed. It was necessary for the Avos to take wives from their family in Charan because of the underlying potential for spiritual growth inherent in that family, regardless of the distorted beliefs and misdeeds that many of the family’s members harbored and engaged in.
Let us never pass over the opportunity to work with people to realize and actualize their potential, as we strive to emulate the Avos and Imahos in following the ways of Hashem.