02 Aug Some Dating Tips from the Torah
We all know that the first official shaddchan in the Torah was Eliezer, the servant of Avraham. We also know that he wrote the script beforehand, praying to Hashem that a girl would come along who would demonstrate not just kindliness but a true passion and zest for chesed that would be manifest in her willingness and eagerness to even shlep drinking water to all of Eliezer’s camels. As is turned out, providentially, Hashem delivered exactly as Eliezer ordered. It is interesting to note Eliezer’s strange choice of words when he was praying for this anticipated scenario. He asked Hashem, Hakrei na lfanai hayom — Let it happen before me today. The word mikre (from which the word hakrei stems) is always associated with an accident—something that just happens to happen, unplanned and unpremeditated. This is a queer phrase to use when Eliezer was supplicating that G-d should pull the strings for just such an event.
The great Rav Tzodek HaKohen, Ztl Zya, gives a profound answer. He explains that Eliezer was praying to Hashem that the girl should just happen to come by so that she would be unaware that she was being observed for matrimonial purposes. Eliezer wanted to get a glimpse of her true self and not get her on her best behavior. Indeed, this is major concern of our youth when they are dating since they are careful to be on their best behaviors. They have to become real sleuths to unearth the true person behind the mask.
The Reva goes a step further. He questions why Eliezer arranged the rendezvous at the be’er, the well. He says as follows: A man should look for the following attributes in a wife. She should have good pedigree/yichus, be pretty [This is why I always tell girls to smile often. They look infinitely more pretty when they smile.], they should have neimus hanefesh/a sweetness of character, and tznius/personal modesty. The Reva continues that, while pedigree and beauty can be determined anywhere, Eliezer wanted to investigate the latter two traits specifically when the girl was away from her home and not under the eyes of her parents. He wanted to see how should would act without the restraints of her home. Therefore, he deliberately arranged that he should meet her away from the tutelage of her parents.
The Ran shares yet another powerful insight with us. Avraham cautioned Eliezer that, under no circumstances, should he take a wife for Yitzchak from the daughters of Canaan. The Ran wonders why Avraham was so emphatic. $ Was the daughter of Besuel any better? After all, she came from a family of idolaters. Wasn’t that just as bad? The Ran answers with a truly profound revelation. He explains that the Canaanite people were a cruel people. They had foul character traits. On the other hand, the family of Besuel had false beliefs of idolatry. The Ran elaborates that while bad character traits are passed through the genes, wrong opinions and ideals are not. Therefore, it was much safer to take a daughter of idolaters than a girl from a family of bad midos.
It is interesting to note that the specific trait Eliezer was on the lookout for for the second matriarch of Klal Yisroel was the attribute of passionate kindliness. Of all the traits to look for – such as patience, flexibility, intelligence, joviality, temperament, Eliezer reveals to us that kindliness was of paramount importance. This is not simply because Avraham’s family was one renowned for its kindness. Rather, this is an important revelation of the importance for a wife to be happy and comfortable with the art of giving for, in a successful home, a wife does much without any payment or even any word of thanks. Thus, for example, when she diapers babies hundreds of times, she cannot expect a show of appreciation. Similarly, as she spends long and hard hours with her children on their homework and school projects, they cooperate begrudgingly – and not thankfully. Even her domestic duties around the home, cleaning and scrubbing and laundering, will often go unnoticed (although this certainly should not be the case).
Thus, it is a great boon in a marriage if a woman has an innate satisfaction out of giving and pleasing others. She then will not need the accolades and applause to motivate her to function properly in her role as wife and mother. The prospective suitor however should take caution that, even if the young lady manifests a willingness to do good, it should not be simply with an aim to win friends and favors. For, if this is her motivation, it will be absent when it pertains to her husband and family for she has them already and doesn’t need to win them. This is a profound aspect that needs to be looked into.
When Rivkah saw Yitzchak for the first time, it says, Vayetzei Yitzchak lasuach basodeh — Yitzchak went out to pray in the field. This teaches us that one of the areas a young lady should carefully look into in a prospective mate is the way he prays, for prayer is a true barometer of the sincerity of an individual. For, while we might do many things because of ulterior motives, what we are thinking when we pray to G-d whether about tomorrows meetings or last years World Series — or true communication with Hashem, is a true test of our sincerity and devotion.
May Hashem help us that we learn from the Torah how to date wisely, or advise our children or grandchildren to do so wisely, and in that merit may all those who are looking for their basherte find them speedily and happily.
Please learn and daven for the refuah sheleima of Miriam Liba bas Devorah, b’soch shaar cholei Yisroel. Now back in print is a large size paperback edition of Power Bentching. To order call him at 718-916-3100 or email at above. Attend Rabbi Weiss’s weekly shiur at the Landau Shul, Avenue L and East 9th in Flatbush, Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m. Rabbi Weiss’s Daf Yomi and Mishnah Yomis shiurim can be heard LIVE on KolHaloshon at (718) 906-6400. Write to KolHaloshon@gmail. com for details. They can now also be seen on TorahAnyTime.com.