16 Nov THE BIG FIVE + 1
This week’s parshah, Chayei Sarah, shares with us insights and lessons regarding shidduchim – finding a life partner.
Following Sarah’s death, Avrohom feels that it’s time to find an appropriate match for his son, Yitzchak. He sends his long-time, trusted aide, Eliezer on a mission to Aram, tasking him with this responsibility.
The Torah relates that HaShem blessed Avrohom “ba’kol – with everything”. Ramban, comments that Avrohom was blessed with honor and prestige, wealth and possessions, long-life and children – everything.
Yitzchak was Avrohom’s heir-to-be, and considered a most eligible man. One would assume that it would have been easy to find a proper match. Yet, when Eliezer arrives to Aram, he made no such assumption. He stops at a well, and turns to HaShem in prayer. He asks for a sign, letting him know that he was successful with his mission.
Eliezer asks, “If the girl should say to me ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels to drink’, then I will know that she is the one You have designated for Yitzchak.” (Bereishis 24:14)
The parshah is sharing with us an important teaching, the power of tefillah.
We all have the ability to look heavenward, to daven, to beseech HaShem for help, that He be with us, guiding us in the right direction.
Eliezer understood that when it comes to shidduchim, there are no guarantees, and we need Divine assistance, we have to ask HaShem for clarity.
Prayer works. No sooner than when Eliezer finishes praying, Rivkah appears on the scene. She offers water not only to Eliezer, but also to his caravan of 10 camels. She went above and beyond, displaying true chesed. She could have easily told Eliezer to help himself and his camels to water from the well. But she did more than that. She herself drew the water.
The Chumash tells us, “va’timaheir… she quickly lowered her water pitcher for Eliezer, and then “va’torotz … she ran back to the well, and again “va’timaheir…she hurried and poured water into the trough for the camels”. (Bereishis 24:18-20).
In last week’s parshah, we find an amazing similarity when Avrohom served the three angels who appeared in the guise of ordinary men. The parshah uses the same terms, “va’yimaheir…and he hurried to the tent”, “v’el habakar ratz… and he ran to the cattle”, and once again “va’yimaheir… and he hurried to prepare the meat”. (Bereishis 18:6-7)
Eliezer saw in Rivkah the midos, the character traits that Avrohom lived by. Traits that would make Rivkah the perfect wife for Yitzchak. She lived a life of chesed, and like Avrohom, performed acts of kindness with alacrity and enthusiasm.
Rivkah not only provided water, but welcomed Eliezer to her parents’ home, offering him and his camels a place to rest and refresh.
Rivkah had a lev tov, a good heart, and lived a life of caring and sharing. A life of being there for others, and going out of her way to make people comfortable.
Eliezer prayed not only when he needed HaShem’s help at the outset, but once he realized that his mission had succeeded, he also offered a prayer of gratitude. “Boruch HaShem, the G-d of my master Avrohom, who did not forsake His kindness and His truth…” (Bereishis 24:27)
Another life lesson from the parshah, to not only pray in times of need, but also to express gratitude for all the goodness, and all the successes that we are blessed with.
My mother a”h had the great z’chus to make countless shidduchim. Her reputation as a shadchan, matchmaker spread far and wide.
My mother taught a weekly Chumash class, attended by hundreds, from every walk of life. Once, a TV news personality found her way to the class, looking for “Mr. Right”. After the class, she approached my mother and explained that she was Jewish, and looking for “a quality relationship”.
“What’s quality?” my mother asked.
“The Big Five”, she replied. “Good looking – there must be chemistry; Bright – be well educated and have street smarts; Wealthy – I like good things; Personality and a sense of humor – I want someone to entertain me; and Athletic – I hike, bike and play tennis”.
“Good luck to you,” my mother said with a chuckle. “But more importantly, your Big Five adds up to a bunch of zeroes.”
“Why”, she asked.
“Zeroes don’t add up to anything, unless there is a digit in front of them.”
“I don’t get it, Rebbetzin. What digit?”
“A Torah digit” my mother explained. “The first letter of the Torah is a ב-beit. The last
letter of the Torah is ל-lamed. Together, they
spell לב†-lev, heart. If someone doesn’t have a
good heart, a lev tov, and live their life with Torah ethics, good looks become repulsive. A bright mind could be used against you. Wealth can be used to manipulate and control you. And a strong personality may well suffocate you.”
“As for being athletic, hire a trainer!”
The woman left, but my mother’s words kept coming back to her again and again.
She returned to class the following week, this time telling the Rebbetzin “I am ready!” It didn’t take long for my mother, forever the shadchan, to find her a proper match.
A short time later, in the New York Times wedding announcement section, the beautiful bride credited the Rebbetzin with finding her a man with a good heart, and the added bonus of her Big Five.
“…He (Yitzchak) married Rivkah, she became his wife, and he loved her.” (Bereishis 24:67)
The Hebrew word for love is ahavah. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch zt”l, teaches that the root of the word ahavah is hav, meaning to give. True love is all about giving to one another. The Torah tells us that it wasn’t until after their marriage that Yitzchak experienced true love, for the more he and Rivkah gave to each other, the stronger their love grew.
We learn in Pirkei Avos about Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai’s discussion with his students as to what is a good path in life for man to follow.
Five students. Five different responses.
One student, Rabbi Elazar ben Arach answered that the most important quality is “Lev tov – a good heart.” To which his teacher readily agreed. (Pirkei Avos 2:14)
A good heart is important. Not only in marriage, but in all aspects of life. Be it with family, work colleagues, friends or neighbors. With a good heart, we can help each other overcome challenges. With kindness, we can achieve great things.