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This week’s Torah portion is Chayei Sarah, meaning “the Life of Sara” (Genesis 23:1 – 25:18). It is so named because it is in this week’s portion that we read of Sara’s passing. In fact, Abraham himself dies in this reading, as well. Although these two episodes – the demise of Sara and Abraham – are mournful, there is also a lot to be learned in his week’s Torah reading about a more exciting and welcome topic: Marriage and Relationships!

Isaac is still unmarried, and his father, Abraham, has had enough. Time to get married Isaac! But there weren’t too many good girls or marriage prospects in the area where Abraham and Isaac lived: Those people were idol worshipers and into all kinds of other no-good lifestyles. So Abraham realized that he was going to have to find a girl from some place else. And since it was before Skype, Jdate, and even phone calls, Abraham realized that he would have to send an emissary to go find the right girl.

Abraham calls for his trusted servant, Eliezer, to go find a wife for Isaac. For those unfamiliar, Eliezer was Abraham’s right hand man and personal assistant. He was involved in every decision and privy to all information in Abraham’s life. In a nutshell: Eliezer had the highest security clearance possible in both Abraham’s personal and professional life.

But nevertheless, something strange: Before sending Eliezer off on his mission to find a wife for Isaac, he grills Eliezer and makes him swear, yes swear, that he won’t look among the Canaanite girls for a potential wife for Isaac. He made Eliezer swear that he would only go to his former hometown, ensure the family is proper, and ensure that Isaac not be tempted to leave, among other conditions.

The commentators ask the glaring question: Till now Eliezer was trusted with the most sensitive information and missions. Trusted beyond imagination. Always loyal, successful, and determined. What’s going on? Why is Abraham now putting Eliezer through the ringer with repeating warnings and oaths?

The answer is: When it comes to material matters, trust is adequate. Precedent is adequate. Reliability is adequate. When it comes to spiritual matters, however, all of that matters very little. Spiritual matters are in another league, in another dimension. They are, as their name implies, — out of this world.


Marriage is one such spiritual matter. Marriage is not merely the solidification of a relationship or the happy ending to courtship and romance. Marriage is the binding of two people for all eternity. It is two souls becoming united as one. It is the raising of a family and a home. It is to ensure that one’s children, grandchildren, and future descendants will be God-fearing and observant individuals. It is bringing God to be a partner in one’s life and home. Indeed, there is little more that is as spiritual as marriage.

That is why Abraham put Eliezer through the ringer. But marriage is another matter. Till now Eliezer was involved in the material matters. But now it was going to a whole new level: Spiritual matters. Finding the life mate for Patriarch #2 of the Jewish people. Finding the woman that will continue Abraham’s work. Perhaps this week’s reading is an opportunity to examine our own marriages, as well.

Shabbat Shalom from Israel!

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, rabbinic director, United with Israel