Project Genesis

Family and Relationships

Marriage and Dating

Dating Tips

Question: Does the Torah offer any guidelines or advice on choosing or finding a suitable partner?

Answer: Abraham sends his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son Issac (Genesis Ch 24). The first significant factor to consider is that Abraham made Eliezer swear that he would not take a women from among the Canaanites, but rather that he would travel hundreds of miles and conduct his search only among Abraham’s own family. There were certain intrinsic character traits possessed by his family that Abraham felt were essential for any future wife of Issac – some of those traits were genetic, and some cultural – but an important implication of this is to emphasis that people don’t exist in a vacuum. Everyone is a product of their family, of their nation, and of their culture, and these factors have to be taken seriously when choosing a person you’re going to have to live with for the rest of your life. An example of a case in which this would apply is where, for example, one of Ashkenazi descent is considering marrying one of Sephardi descent. Now if “Men are from Mars and women are from Venus”, then one has to think twice before they further complicate this ‘war’ between the sexes, by marrying someone who has been brought up in a completely different Jewish culture and thus will almost certainly have an entirely different way of relating to the world.

Now, what criteria did Eliezer use to find the right women? As soon as he arrives in Aram, the area where Abraham’s family had settled, he says a short prayer to G-d: “Hashem, G-d of my master Abraham, may you arrange it for me this day that You do kindness with my master Abraham. See, I stand here by the spring of water and the daughters of the townsmen are coming out to draw. Let it be that the maiden to whom I shall say, ‘Please tip over your jug so I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will even water your camels’, it is her that you have designated for your servant, for Issac, and may I know through her that You have done kindness with my master.” We can learn a number of things from this scene: firstly, we see that prayer is essential when it comes to finding a wife; Eliezer asks G-d to, literally, set up the whole situation whereby the women meant for Isaac would simply cross his path at that moment – and indeed that is precisely what happened – before he had finished his prayer, Rebbecca was on her way out. Secondly, the one simple characteristic that he was looking for was Kindness, but not just doing what is asked but going beyond the call of duty – ‘Drink, AND I WILL EVEN WATER YOUR CAMELS’. Each partner in a marriage relationship must be sensitive and totally responsive to what the other partner needs, even when not asked or told – Rebecca, with those seven extra words proved to Eliezer that she was a woman suitable to enter the Household of Abraham, the ‘Man of Kindness’.

Yours sincerely,
Ari Lobel

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