Match Made in HeavenOctober 24, 2013 - 5:00 am
“Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.’”—Genesis 24:50
The Torah portion for this week, Chayei Sarah, which means “the life of Sarah,” is from Genesis 23:1—25:18, and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 1:1–31.
Getting married today takes courage. With society’s casual attitude toward divorce, the chances of a marriage lasting are about 50 percent. It’s not easy finding the right mate and even more rare to stick together “in good times and bad, until death do us part.”
The Talmud, Judaism’s oral tradition, tells the following tale. Rabbi Yosi was once approached by a Roman woman with a question. “In how many days did God create the world?” she asked. “In six,” Rabbi Yosi replied. “And since then,” the woman continued, “what has God been doing?” “Matching couples for marriage,” responded Rabbi Yosi. “That’s it?” she said dismissively. “Even I can do that. I have many slaves, both male and female. In no time at all, I can match them for marriage.” Rabbi Yosi countered, “Though this may be an easy thing for you to do, for God it is as difficult as parting the Sea of Reeds [the Red Sea].”
The woman went home and lined up her male and female servants, pairing them off and sending them home for the night. The next day the woman’s estate looked like a war zone. One slave had a broken arm, another had lost an eye. All of her servants refused to stay with their assigned partners. Quickly, the woman summoned Rabbi Yosi and acknowledged. “Your God is unique and your Torah is true. You spoke wisely.”
As the Roman woman quickly learned, a lot more goes into a successful marriage than merely pairing people up. And as the Rabbi explained, each marriage is as miraculous as the parting of the Red Sea. He also implied that every marriage is from God, and indeed, this idea has a basis in the Bible, which we find in this week’s reading.
When Abraham’s servant searched for a suitable mate for Isaac, he found Rebekah. She was excited to marry Isaac and her family’s reaction was this: “This is from the LORD . . .” The Sages point to this verse as the source for the belief that the ultimate matchmaker is God.
What does this teach us about marriage and how can it help us navigate the choppy waters of matrimony today?
For one, it teaches us to look at marriage as a sacred institution ordained by God. When we look at our marriage that way, certain that it is right, we are far less concerned about what is wrong. Even more so, we are grateful and appreciative for what we have — nothing less than a miracle performed personally by God.