Significance of shidduch
The first shidduch in history occurs in this week’s parsha. Abraham sends his faithful servant, Eliezer, to find a bride for his son, Isaac. He hands Eliezer a document ceding his entire wealth to Isaac, and makes him take a solemn oath that he won’t bring back a Canaanite woman for his son but someone from Abraham’s own family.
Amazing Abraham! He writes over his entire fortune to his son to help him find the right shidduch. Is there even a mention that Abraham demanded some security from Eliezer for the wealth that he was entrusted with? On what did Abraham ask Eliezer to take an oath? Not on the wealth, but on the woman! There’s not a word about Abraham insisting on any guarantees, promises, or even a handshake when it came to the money. But when it came to the nature of the woman, the character of the person his son would be marrying, Abraham demanded nothing less than a solemn oath.
What an incredible lesson for our own priority system. What do we truly value? When it comes to our money, everything must be under lock and key, with ironclad securities. Are we as careful with our children? Are we as particular about who they go out with, where they go, and what they get up to?
There was a time when Jewish parents took responsibility for their children’s social well-being and even their matchmaking. Ok, times have changed, and children don’t appreciate parental interference in their romantic endeavours. But even if we can’t “arrange” things, we can still try to “facilitate” an introduction behind the scenes. At the very least, we could take an interest.
Surely parents should be talking about marriage to their children when they come of age. Surely, the importance of getting married ought to be conveyed to our kids before they turn 35! And wouldn’t it be a good idea for parents to sit down with their kids at some stage to discuss what to look for in a marriage partner?
If Abraham was worried about the wrong woman having a bad influence on his son, how much more should we be concerned about our children?
And children might want to take their parents’ advice a little more seriously. After all, history proves that parents often do see things that children – blinded by “love” – don’t.
The “singles” phenomenon is arguably the single biggest social challenge in the Jewish world today. People are marrying older or not marrying at all. Too often, the biological clock runs out before a family can get off the ground.
Abraham teaches us that it’s our responsibility as parents to ensure that our children mix in the right circles and aren’t exposed to the wrong influences. Please G-d, all our children will find suitable marriage partners sooner rather than later, and raise strong Jewish families that we’ll all be proud of.