Love and Marriage - חיי שרה

Thursday, 17 November, 2022 - 11:15 am

Love and Marriage

This is a Parsha about a matchmaker, Abraham's servant Eliezer, and his efforts to create a marriage between two very different people. Isaac was raised in a holy environment. From the moment he was offered as an offering to G-d at the binding of Isaac, he was considered sacred and was not permitted to leave the land of Israel. Rebecca, by contrast, was raised in a distant land surrounded by less-than-honest people. Isaac was an introvert; discipline and "strength" was the dominant emotion in his personality, whereas Rebecca was the opposite, the epitome of outstanding kindness and giving. Yet, despite this seemingly unlikely match, theirs is the first marriage in the Torah that describes love. 

Perhaps the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca offers lessons on how to reach and maintain true and lasting love. Perhaps the first lesson is that the foundation of a healthy relationship is not love but respect. While both love and respect are essential for a relationship, love without respect, the expansion of self that does not consider the other person and their needs, can be overwhelming and even hurtful. Love, the desire to connect to another person, must be predicated on respecting the other person's needs, personality, and perspective. Indeed, the first time Rebecca meets Isaac, the scene describes not euphoric love but rather awe and respect. As the verse states: 

Rebecca lifted her eyes, and saw Isaac, and she let herself down from the camel. And she said to the servant, "Who is that man walking in the field towards us?" And the servant said, "He is my master." And she took the veil and covered herself.

The Torah then describes their marriage and love: 

And Isaac brought her to the tent of Sarah, his mother, and he took Rebecca, and she became his wife, and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for [the loss of] his mother.

Perhaps counterintuitively, and sometimes overlooked, is that "and he loved her" is written not as a reason for the marriage but rather as a result of the marriage. The Torah may be signaling that true love is a process that takes time to develop. True love is developed by many small acts of consideration, giving, and kindness. The act of giving is not merely the result of love; but rather, it can be the cause that intensifies love. The more kindness we bestow in a relationship, the more love we will experience. 

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