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Choosing a wife!

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil
November 22, 2016

Finding a wife isn’t a simple task. When you are commissioned to find the wife of your master’s son, the saintly Yitzchak, it’s even tougher.

On the surface it looks like Eliezer, servant of Avraham, set out on his task and prepared a simple test. He was going to approach the well where all the maidens gathered and ask one girl for a little portion of water. If she would give him to drink, adequately quench his thirst and offer to give to all his ten camels than she would be the destined future wife for Yitzchak.

On the surface, Eliezer was searching for the special characteristic of Chesed – kindness. His masterAvraham and Sarah were known for their hospitality. Yitzchak had grown up in a house full of kindness and it was only fitting that this be the test for his future wife.

Masechet Peah opens with the law of leaving a corner of one’s field for the poor. The first Mishnah teaches that biblically there is no requisite measure of land that one must leave. The Mishnah then lists other Mitsvot for which the Torah does not prescribe a minimum or maximum quantityand proceeds to list the Mitsvot which one enjoys the fruit in this world, whilst keeping the ultimate reward in the next world.

This Mishna was hand selected by our Sages to be said every morning. There are plenty of deep ideas behind this, but one that stands out for this article is the following:

Among the list, is that a person who does Hashkamat Bet Keneset – arises early to the synagogue, will enjoy the fruit in this world and receive his principle reward in the world to come. The sages explain here that it does not say one who attends or arrives to the synagogue will receive reward. Rather the emphasis is on the getting up early and arriving. To come to the synagogue is a simple obligation. Yet to arise early and show eagerness that shows a different level of serving G-d and is rewarded accordingly.

Rabbi Ovadia Seforno writes that Eliezer was after one more simple, yet paramount detail in his test.

It wasn’t enough that the girl would replenish his thirst and that of all his camels.

The question was not just if she would do it, rather it entailed also how she would act.

The Pasuk relates – Vatemaher – she hurried to take down her jug to fill for the man. Vataratz – and she ran again to the well. (Bereishit 24:20).

Eliezer wanted to check her eagerness in performing the Mitzvah.

When G-d took us out of Egypt the Torah emphasises that He took us out in haste – (Bechipazon). This is mimicked by us at the Pesach Seder night where some have the custom of dressing as if about to leave, and all ensure that we eat the Kezayit (measurement) of Matza within the allotted time.   The Matzah we eat brings to mind that when the Jews left Egypt, they were so hurried that “they baked the dough which they had taken out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened Matzah, because they were expelled from Egypt and they were not able to delay” (Shemot 12:39). The Passover Haggadah makes this point even more clearly: “What does this Matzah that we eat represent? It represents the fact that the dough of our forefathers had not had a chance to rise when Hashem suddenly appeared to them and redeemed them, as it says, ‘They baked the dough which they had taken, into Matzot…’“

But this fact itself, the Maharal points out, requires explanation. Why must we remember that the Exodus from Egypt happened so swiftly and suddenly? What is the underlying message involved in the great haste of the Jews leaving Egypt?

The Maharal explains that the lesson of the haste is that Hashem Himself (as opposed to any natural forces) took us out of Egypt. Any act done directly by Hashem takes place instantaneously. The reason for this is that there is no element of mass or matter related to Hashem. A physical object has inertia that it must overcome in order to go into motion, but Hashem, Whose actions are purely spiritual, and are unimpeded by any physical qualities, can — and does — act with infinite speed. Besides, Hashem exists outside of the very framework of space and time, and, therefore, even when His actions are taking place in this physical world, they can take place without the passage of time.

This, says the Maharal, is the key to understanding the Mitzvah of Matzah. The Matzah that we eat reminds us how rushed the events revolving around the exodus from Egypt were. This haste is the mark of a divine act. It is the sure sign that the hand of Hashem was at work, shaping our destiny. ” `Hashem took us out of Egypt’ — It was not an angel nor a Seraph nor a messenger, but Hashem Himself Who took us out of Egypt” — (Passover Haggadah) Therefore, it is necessary for us to remember the swiftness of the exodus.

Again we see that haste in a spiritual matter implies deep love.

It is the Torah’s way of ensuring that the future generations will always realize the extent of Hashem’s love for the Bnei Yisrael. Hashem took a “personal” involvement in the redemption — which was why it was carried out instantaneously.

Eliezer was looking for a girl that would fit in to Avraham’s household. Many years earlier when Avraham was approached by three Arab looking men on the third day of his Brit Mila, we are told that Vayaratz Avraham – Avraham ran towards them to offer them his hospitality.

Acting swiftly on a matter shows how important it is to us, and that we are connected to G-d. Of course once we get to the actual Mitzvah it should be done slowly and with care. The swift movement needs to take place in the beginning. We are rewarded for our Hashkama eager arrival to the synagogue not our fast prayers!

Once Eliezer had seen Rivka’s eagerness to perform such a tough task, he knew for certain that she was the one destined to carry on the legacy. Through her actions she merited becoming one of the great mothers of the Jewish people.

Let us emulate our ancestors and remember to arise full of eagerness and energy, knowing well what achievement lies ahead of us!


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