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Chayei Sarah: The Main Point is Middos

Miriam Aflalo

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

“He [Avraham] said to the senior servant of his household, who was in charge of all that he owned, ‘Place your hand under my thigh. I will bind you by an oath to G-d … that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites…. Instead, you must go to my native land, to my birthplace, and obtain a wife for my son Yitzchak.’” (Bereishis 24:2–4)

With the words: “who was in charge of all that he owned,” the Torah is teaching us, that although Eliezer was in charge of everything Avraham had, and he trusted him, when it came to sending him to find a wife for Yitzchak, he didn’t rely on his honesty and his righteousness. Rather, he insisted Eliezer make an oath. Since finding a wife for Yitzchak meant establishing Bnei Yisrael for eternity, if, G-d forbid, he wouldn’t find a fitting woman, how terrible would be the destruction that would come out of this. (Lev Eliyahu, Rav Eliyahu Lopian)

The cloud that hovered above the tent left, and the bowl of dough remained orphaned. Darkness descended suddenly on the tent. The candle that was lit from Erev Shabbos until Erev Shabbos was extinguished. An oppressive and painful darkness was created. Because Sarah wasn’t there.

Then Eliezer went out. He went out to look for a wife for Yitzchak, and to find a mother for Klal Yisrael. Will he be successful?

When Eliezer went to fulfill his mission, he was petrified and begged Hashem to prepare for him the ideal wife for Yitzchak. He made a sign with the drawing of the water, etc. When he saw that his tefillos were accepted, and Rivkah came to draw water … then he bowed to Hashem. (ibid.)

She came down the street, with her pitcher on her shoulder, a spring in her step, and derech eretz in her gait. And Eliezer stood and marveled. Was it possible that his tefillah was accepted and his sign fulfilled? The waters that Eliezer drank from her hands were sweet and his heart gushed in gratitude.

One wonders: even if he saw immediately her derech eretz and zrizus — what did he know about her yiras Shamayim? And why didn’t he ask for a sign about that as well? How will it help if she has good middos, but doesn’t have yiras Shamayim? After all, she’s the daughter of Besuel, and the sister of Lavan, the trickster. Perhaps, she was an idol worshiper like the rest of her family and her birthplace. Would this be the woman that was fitting for Yitchak, our father, to build Bnei Yisrael? (ibid.)

Is this how we choose a kallah for the house of Avraham? Did Eliezer test her a bit on hashkafah and emunah? If the Jewish nation was going to be born from her, how could he ascertain that she wasn’t like all the other girls in the neighborhood?

Yet Eliezer asked her nothing. He was secure in his choice. She had middos tovos. Therefore, he gave her the bracelets and nose rings and turned his camels to her house.

“From this we learn a wonderful insight. If someone has good middos, he has the foundation to build himself and to reach perfection in all other areas. (ibid.)

We, too, want girls who will bring to the house a lit candle of yiras Shamayim. We, too, want children who are tzaddikim, a house of Torah, and success in chinuch. But we have to know that the only way to get all this is not through the best schools, and not through the family with the best yichus. Only through water and ten camels will the way be paved. Only there can we test the mother of our nation.

If there are middos tovos, then there is Hashem in the heart and Hashem in the house.

Think about your priorities. What makes you the happiest with your children? Good marks on tests? Or derech eretz? In the depths of your heart, do you daydream about a wonder-child who is popular and charismatic? Or perhaps you dream of seeing your child reach out to those who have no friends?

Do you discuss in your house the way you should talk with adults? Or that you shouldn’t push in line? Or perhaps your children see or hear otherwise?

Is the worst thing that you can hear that your child hurt a friend, doesn’t want to share, or doesn’t appreciate the value in chesed? Do children discern that this causes you great pain?
Let our children sense our tefillah that we, too, wish that they should merit to establish their lives on the foundation of middos tovos. How we wish that we, too, should merit clouds of kedushah hovering over our house, a brachah in our dough and a candle lit from Erev Shabbos till Erev Shabbos.

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