Rabbi Miriam's Blog
Human signs, marks and symbols set the groundwork for human communication and interaction during the dawn of wo/man. They were expressed and conveyed by simple, yet powerful, human and artificial sounds, acts, and
drawings. Natural phenomena such as lightning, thunder, floods, and other cosmic events were perceived and interpreted as truthful signs given by unseen universal powers (Gods) to humans. Examples: “The Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” (Genesis 4:15). “I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of a covenant between me and the earth.”. (Genesis 9:13).
At the same time forms of human behavior, were viewed as either, positive or negative, correctly or incorrectly through given “labels.” Example: “And she (Hanna) was of bitterness of soul and prayed to the Lord, and prayed bitterly… only her lips moved and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli (the priest) thought that she was drunk.” (Samuel I, 1:10/13.)
In this Torah portion Hayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1–25:18), we are told that Abraham’s trusted servant Eliezer, loaded ten camels with an expensive dowry, and embarked on a long journey to Haran, to find a wife for Isaac among the daughters of Abraham’s extended family who had not migrated to Canaan. It was an unusual task for him, because, at that time, young men set out to find their own wives. Therefore, when he reached a well on the outskirts of the city, Eliezer requested the following sign from Abraham’s God: "O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, please cause to happen to me today, and perform loving kindness with my master, Abraham And it will be, [that] the maiden to whom I will say, 'Lower your pitcher and I will drink,' and she will say, 'Drink, and I will also water your camels,' her have You designated for Your servant, for Isaac.” (Genesis 24:12/14.) Lo-and-behold, it happened just as he requested. It turned out to be a perfect match between Isaac and Rebecca.
When we look more closely at his request, we can clearly see that Eliezer wished for Isaac a wife who had similar characteristics as Sara, who had taken care of her son until her death. Indeed, one of the first acts of motherly love that Rebecca performed for Isaac was: “and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. ” (By Rebecca) (Genesis 24:67.)
What are the Signs of Our Times, then, which friends look for, when they make a "shidduch” – (an introduction or a match) between two individuals? What sign does an individual who surfs the Internet in search of a “soul” mate looks for? Do they bother to look for any sign at all? Or, are they just taking a chance that it would work between them and hope for the best? (I crossed out the word “hope” because I don’t like to use it. What ”I hope” is telling me, is
that one relinquishes his/her responsibility for doing nothing about the given situation, and puts it in someone else’s hands – most likely in God’s hands.)
When I surfed the Internet in search of one repeated “label” that Rabbis advise individuals to look for in “perfect match” for which they yearn, it was: (I paraphrase) “You need to find someone with a good heart!” Really!? Wasn’t it Samuel the priest who warned the Israelites who had been searching for their first king, saying to them: “…for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (Samuel I, 16:7.) Can a human being observe” another human being’s heart, just as God can?
Samuel didn’t think so, and neither, regrettably, do I. However, human beings can observe the signs, marks and symbols that a truthful and a loving heart give off like glowing arrows. They are not in the big words and the lavish gifts, but in the simple gentle touch, in the admiring glance, in the single word, and in the tear of joy.
Ahavat Torah of West Los Angeles
About Rabbi Miriam
Rabbi Miriam E. Hamrell MHL, M.Ed., has served as our religious and spiritual leader at Ahavat Torah Congregation and helped it grow since it was founded in 2003.