“The daughter of so-and-so is to marry so-an-so!”
If you’re married, then you should know that these words resonated through the heavens already 40 days prior to your conception.1 Yes, before man is even but a fetus in his mother’s womb, a heavenly voice proclaims precisely whom he is destined to marry. It is, quite literally, a match made in heaven!
Many of those who are in the midst of the process of searching for a shidduch, or “bazra,” find the process to be difficult, and perhaps even exhausting.
Our hachamim make a seemingly peculiar statement in regard to a person’s quest for a soulmate: “Matchmaking is as difficult for Gd as was the splitting of the sea.” The words of our sages are obviously profound, and need to be explained. Was splitting the sea “difficult” for Hashem? Does any act – natural or supernatural – require even the slightest effort on His part? Can we dare limit his capabilities, or suggest that He encounters “difficulty” doing something? Certainly not.
Hashem himself declares, “Am I under any limitations?” Indeed, He is not limited by any constraints.
So, just how hard is it for Gd to split the sea? It is effortless. To say matchmaking is “just as hard” would thus mean that it is exactly as effortless as the aforementioned miracle.
The question remains, however, just what are the hachamim teaching us in this passage?
If we trust that Gd is indeed the one true matchmaker, then we can rest assured that at the right time, Hashem will easily send us our intended mate, for it is as easy for Gd as the splitting of the sea. However, if one believes the finding of a mate is dependent solely on the means of his or her own efforts – then that person has good reason to despair, because this undertaking is as difficult as splitting the sea!
Besides recognizing that finding a soulmate depends solely on Hashem, it is also essential to first know what’s important, which traits and qualities are required for a marriage to succeed. When setting out to take this critical step, one must learn of the fundamental character trait that we, as Jews, have emphasized more than any other when finding a spouse – a tradition that dates back to the days of our forefathers.
When Avraham Avinu’s trusted servant, Eliezer, set out to find a wife for his master’s son, he prayed for a sign. He decided that if a girl at the well would offer water for both him and his camels this would be a heavenly sign that she was chosen to marry Yitzhak.
Just as he concluded his prayer, Eliezer witnessed something remarkable. Rivkah, the daughter of Avraham’s nephew, Betuel, made her way to the well, whereupon the water miraculously rose from the well’s surface. After seeing this miracle, Eliezer headed over to Rivkah to see if she would meet the criterion which he had established. Of course, as we all know, she did, offering to draw water for both Eliezer himself and his camels.
The question is obvious. Eliezer saw with his own eyes how Gd performed an open miracle for Rivkah, and yet he still insisted on “testing” her by asking for water. Wasn’t the miracle sufficient to prove her worthiness as a marriage partner for Yitzhak? Did Eliezer not recognize already then that Rivkah was a special, righteous girl with the credentials for joining the family of Avraham?
Rabbi Yitzhak Zev Soloveitchik, zt”l, explains that indeed, Eliezer was not “sold” on Rivkah after seeing the miracle. Although this miracle was significant and noteworthy, it did not prove that Rivkah had the most vital quality necessary for marriage: good middot. The fact that she was righteous enough to deserve a miracle did not mean that she was kindhearted, thoughtful and generous. And therefore Eliezer proceeded with his plan, asking for water to see her response.
When one sets out to find a match, middot must occupy the very highest rung on the priority scale. While good looks, financial resources and a high-ranking social status might sound nice on paper, don’t forget that these extras can be lost or stolen in the blink of an eye. The person with a genuinely pleasant, selfless character is the one who makes the perfect soul-mate, and these are the qualities that will sustain a marriage through thick and thin, and build a home of true happiness and joy.
1 Sotah 2b.