Chayei Sarah – What To Look For

Eliezer is faced with a most difficult task. It is his responsibility to choose a fitting and suitable ‘shidduch’ for Yitzchok, who was certainly a person of impeccable character and of the highest stature one could possibly imagine.

What qualities must he look for? Must she be a stunning beauty? After all, wasn’t Yitzchok’s mother the most beautiful woman in the entire world? Also, Yitzchok as well as Avrohom were the most handsome people, since they resembled Adom Ho’rishon, the most handsome person in the world. Certainly she must be extremely clever. She must be truthful. In fact, she would certainly have to be outstanding in every way if she would be a match for Yitzchok. She would have to possess the greatest of qualities. Yet Eliezer puts everything aside and tests her for only one single quality. She must be extremely kind. She must possess a heart of gold.

He devises a simple test whereby he can tell at once if she was indeed an extremely kind girl. Eliezer knew that the very foundation of his master’s house was built on chesed – kindness. If she possessed this one quality then surely everything else would fall into place as well.

We find a most interesting din in our Torah. We are told that under no circumstances can we marry a male convert from the nation of Amon and Moav. That’s because, as the Torah tells us, they refused to offer our nation bread and water on our way past their land. For this complete lack of basic human kindness they were forever banned from joining Klal Yisroel. This terrible midoh was so ingrained into their very nature that it would be passed on from generation to generation. Even thousands of years later, no matter how decent an Amoni or Moavi would appear on the outside, he remains banned eternally from marrying into our nation.

The nation of Amon and Moav owed its entire existence to the mercy of Avrohom. It was he who rescued (with his prayers) their father Lot from the destruction of the people of S’dom. Yet, not only did they show no gratitude to their benefactor, but they couldn’t even spare a stale piece of bread with a bit of water for the nation that saved its life – for the nation responsible for its very existence.

Even our arch-enemy Amolek, whom we are required to kill, is not treated so harshly, but is permitted to marry into our ranks. Yet, Moav and Amon remain forever banished from marrying a Jew. A person who shows no compassion for his rescuer can not marry into Klal Yisroel!

The Gemorah tells us that anyone that does not show the midoh of rachmonus – mercifulness – is probably not a Jew. Even the most hard-hearted Jew must possess the midoh of mercy in the very core of his heart.

Eliezer knew that the most important requirement needed to become Yitzchok’s wife was to possess the attribute of kindness. Only if she would show kindness and consideration to his ten camels and quench their thirst without even being asked would she be suitable for Yitzchok. She must show kindness beyond the call of duty.

Moshe Rabbeinu was also chosen as the leader of Klal Yisroel when he showed his great concern and care for one single sheep that had run away. He chased after it for three days and wouldn’t abandon it until he had quenched its thirst. The sign of a great leader is when he shows true concern and kindness for others – even for a little sheep.

The Shulchan Aruch teaches us that when we get up in the morning we are required to first feed our animals, even before we eat our own breakfast. We can’t fill up our own stomach before we show concern for even a simple animal.

The Gemorah tells us that the Torah starts with chesed and ends with chesed. The first act of chesed Hashem did for Odom and Chava was to dress them. The last act in the Torah is when Hashem buried Moshe Rabbeinu. The act of burial is always known as the real “true chesed” – chesed shel emes, since the other person cannot return the kindness anymore.

We must learn the importance of kindness. Doing another person a favor even before we are being asked. Don’t wait to be asked for your help. Offer it on your own, the way Rivka did. Go out of your way to help a person in need. Don’t wait until someone comes to you and asks for your help. He may be too bashful or ashamed. You must be forever on the alert for someone else’s needs in the same way you are for your own.

We must keep this lesson in front of us at all times. Caring and showing consideration and kindness for another person is a basic requirement for every Jew! It is the most essential and important ingredient in every person. One must not live without it!

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