Beautiful Spiritual Art by Michelle Katz

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How to find a proper spouse is made very clear from this week’s portion of “Chaye Sarah.” When Eliezer, Avraham’s faithful servant goes looking for a wife for Yitzchak Avinu. He says to Hashem, “If I say to a girl please bring me a taste from your jug and I will drink, and she says to me, drink and I will also give water to your camels, this is the proof that she is for your servant Yitzchak …” (Bereshit 24.14)

It’s as simple as that. Eliezer was looking for a girl whose nature was to be kind, a “ba’alat chesed.” Who did he find? He found a young girl that clearly exhibited the character traits of his Master Avraham Avinu. He found someone who could potentially follow in his footsteps. Not only did she fulfill the requests of his prayer to God, not only did she did this act of “chessed,” kindness, but she did it quickly and naturally. This is who she was. “…and she hurried and lowered her pitcher to her hand and gave him to drink״ (Bereshit 24.18). Then she goes to get water for his camels, “And she hurries to fill the trough with water from her pitcher, and she runs to the well to draw water for the camels” (Bereshit 24.20).

Now look at last week’s Torah portion of “Vayera.” and he (Avraham) saw three mean approach him (his tent) and he ran to greet them (Bereshit 18.1-3) even though Hashem was appearing to him at that moment, he begged forgiveness from God. As the Talmud teaches, “the mitzvah of welcoming guests is greater than receiving the face of the shchinah” (Shabbat 127. A) Avraham hurries to the tent to Sarah and ran to greet his guests. His dedication to the task I sall aropund him. He asks Sarah to hurry to bring the flour for cakes then he runs to get cattle for meat and his servant runs with it to get it prepared (Bereshit 18.6-7). Now his top servant Eliezer finds a wife for his son Yitzchak that can carry on these traits in their family.

On the surface this might sounds like a contradiction. You are looking for a bride for Yitzchak, the master of awe and introspection and you are seeking a “ba’alat chesed?.” You’re looking for his opposite?

If we assessed this “shiduch” on today’s cultural standards we might say that Eliezer was way off. Look for someone who is just like Yitzchak. Someone who likes the same movies, the same music, reads the same books and has a similar character so they can get along, not someone who is his natural opposite. Finfd Yitzchak a “ba’alat yirah,” like him.

Rav Eliyahu Dessler, validates the sentiments of Eliezer by teaching the following. The best “shidduch,” match, soul mate for one is a spouse who can complement his/her nature (and vice versa) by completing that character trait which he/she does not have in a natural strong way. A master of kindness is a perfect match for a master of “awe.” A “baalat chessed” is the perfect soul mate for a master of “yirah.”

Imagine two people with the same natural character strengths get married. They are both “ba’aley chessed.” They are happily dancing through the early years of marriage when suddenly they are confronted by a situation that demands “yirah, gevurah, inner strength in order to solve the issue. Clearly each will be upset with the other. “Why can’t you help me with this?” The answer is of course obvious, “I just don’t have it. I don’t have what you need.”

If however, two people with opposite character strengths marry, they can constantly be working to learn how to compliment, support and fulfill that which is missing in his or her spouse. They learn to support each other in their separate endeavors and work together to bring harmony to their home and thus to the world around them.

Neighbors see the beauty in their relationship and they too want to emulate that life. We are always looking to each other to receive validation and support on how to make our world a happier place to live.

Everyone one of us has as our basic strong nature one of the three character traits possessed by our forefathers and mothers, “chessed, yirah or emet,” kindness, inner strength or truthfulness. The Ba’al Chessed, writes Harav Dessler in his scholarly work, “Michtav Me’eliyahu”, is a person whose first and main interest are the welfare of others. This is called, “Koach hanetina,” the power of giving. The Yirat Shamayim, is the one whose basic natural trait is to be in awe of heaven. As opposed to a master of kindness whose nature is to turn outwards, the “gibor,” warrior of awe, turns inwards with intense introspection, working on assuring that he/she will bring only good behavior into this world. Finally, the third basic trait, the one of truth, is constantly seeking the proper journey in service to God, without turning left or right with either too much “chessed,” a kindness that has no borders, or an overabundance of personal criticism holding him/her back from the straight path of truth.

The world needs chessed, unconditional love reaching out to all of those around us who are in need. This same world needs “gevurah,” strength and commitment to uphold the values that are important to our identity and space. We all need balance to be bale to navigate safely in a world of extremes that are thrust upon us from so many directions.

Of course it all starts from the home. Our homes all need “chessed, gevurah and emet,” truth and belief which leads us to feeling secure and loved.

May we all be blessed to invest in ourselves and discover which of these is our individual basic nature and bring that strength into the relationship as a means to be able and willing help your spouse, family and friends. May Hashem bless everyone to not be afraid to give and receive to the opposite and thus bring further “shleimut,” completion into our world.

Shabbat Shalom,
Yehudah

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