A Thought for the Week
Chayei Sara 2001
Avrohom Avinu had gone through so much and had achieved such great heights. At almost one hundred years old his mind was in the Heavens. It was at this supremely spiritual esoteric stage of his life that he was faced with a very down-to-earth challenge. He had to make a shiduch for his son Yitzchak.
Finding a suitable mate for your child is no kids' play; it's serious business. Avrohom had to think carefully and ask all the right questions. He had to focus on what were the right characteristics to look for in a prospective Kalla. What behavior patterns needed to be observed. In many circle's when it comes to shiduch time our investigative abilities rival the CIA's. I get calls all the time concerning parents and singles that use me as a reference. Some of the questions seem insane! Yet, it is important. After all the decisions our children make at a very young age will affect their entire lives, the lives of many and for that matter the lives of all future generations. Avrohom, who was establishing a great nation, had to be especially careful. His task was particularly daunting. He knew that his choice for Yitzchak would affect all of us sitting in this room. Yitzchak's children and grandchildren would have to have the emotional resources and spiritual wealth to deal with Uncle Yishmoel and cousin Esav for many generations.
The woman Yitzchak would marry would contribute to the personality of the Jew. For such an awesome decision Avrohom needed help from above, and indeed he found it. He sent his servant Eliezer traveling to look for this mate. He blessed him and promised him that G-d would perform miracles to help him. Eliezer arrived at Aram Naharayim and spoke to G-d. "I will be standing at the well today. I know the women of the community gather at the well. Give me a sign, G-d, so that I will know clearly which one of these girls is the correct wife for Yitzchak." And then a miracle takes place. Eliezer stands by the well, and behold a beautiful -- young lady from exactly the right family appears. Wild! Her charm pours out and Eliezer immediately develops a wonderful feeling about her. Another miracle takes place.
Instead of Rivka raising the barrel of water from the well, the water automatically rises to her. Unbelievable! Bashert! Eliezer has hit the jackpot! The Kalla showed up exactly on cue, exactly where Eliezer stipulated, exactly as Abraham wanted, and exactly as was right for Yitzchok. She was beautiful, she had yichus (lineage) and she came complete with a miracle, so she was holy too... what else is there to think about?
The answer is Chesed -- kindness and good heartedness. Eliezer needed to find out if Rivka was a baalas chesed. She may be beautiful and have the right yichus, she may be holy and may even perform miracles; but that doesn't mean that she has a good heart.
There are so many factors that go into a good person and a good relationship. What can we rely on in another human being? As we go through life so many things change. None of us look the same as we looked 20 years ago. None of us have the capacity to learn that we had when we were young. Our health and strength do not last forever. Our finances keep on changing and are at the mercy of external factors. So when it comes to a relationship what is the constant? What can we rely on? The answer is a good heart. If we marry someone with a good heart, if we ourselves develop a good heart, it will take us through the most trying circumstances. It will carry us through health and illness, wealth and poverty, holy times and not so holy times. Stress and trauma in life can effect everything about us, but they can not corrupt a true lev tov. You can rely on a good heart. What is a good heart? How do we develop a good heart?
A good heart sees the good in others and doesn't define them by their faults. A good heart smiles easily. A good heart loves to see other people succeed. A good heart cries when hearing about the pain of another human being. A good heart opens up their heart impulsively when someone stretches out their hand. A good heart is able to bond with another good heart to create a home for the Shechina.
Two of my favorite Gedolim of the last generation met. The Rogatchover Gaon was a young man and he traveled to the great Rav Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin. They discussed Talmudic topic after topic on a level impossible to imagine. Before the Rogatchover left, Reb Tzadok told him, "You are a great genius, perhaps the greatest in the upcoming generation. I too was considered a prodigy but I eventually learned that although scholastic abilities are wonderful, real greatness lies in a lev tov." The Rogatchover reported that that statement changed his life.
Hashem put Avrohom through so many tests, but at the end defined Avrohom's greatness with one sentence. "I found his heart trustworthy".
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Rabbi Haber is the OU's National Director of Jewish Education and the spiritual leader of the OU's Pardes Program
Comments and questions are very welcome
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"