Saturday, November 06, 2004

But what if she doesn't want to make Aliyah?

So I should have posted this last week but of course I didn't get around to it.

This topic is one that is very close to my heart and I intend to write more about it. But I have always been amazed by the conversation that takes place between Avraham and Eliezer in Parshat Chayay Sarah. And here's how it goes (according to Rav Aryeh Kaplan's ZT"L translation):

Abraham was old, well advanced in years, and G-d had blessed Abraham with everything. He said to the senior servant of his household, who was in charge of everything that he owned, "Place your hand under my thigh. I will bind you by an oath to G-d, Lord of heaven and earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live. Instead, you must go to my native land, to my birthplace, and obtain a wife for my son Isaac."

Think about it. Avraham just assigned Eliezer a tremendous task, finding a suitable wife for Yitzchok, and the servant asks just one measly question. (Or at least just one question is recorded in the Torah.) He didn't ask about Yichus, about wealth, about looks, about personality traits, about Shabbos tablecloths, or even about support. No he could have asked about hundreds of different things. But instead he inquires about this:

"But what if the girl does not want to come back with me to this land?" asked the servant. "Shall I bring your son back to the land that you left?"

Whoo! Pay attention. Eliezer just asked "But what if she doesn't want to make Aliyah?" That's his only concern. "How important is it to live in Eretz Yisrael? I mean, I know a really wonderful girl, but she might want to live in Baltimore - but you could be a good Jew in Baltimore too - how about it?"

And now see the beauty of Avraham's response (brackets added by R' Kaplan):

"Be most careful in the respect," replied Abraham. "Do not bring my son back there! G-d, the Lord of heaven, took me away from my father's house and the land of my birth. He spoke to me and made an oath. 'To your offspring I will give this land.' He will send His angel before you, and you will indeed find a wife there for my son. If the girl does not want to come back with you, then you shall be absolved of my oath. But [no matter what,] do not bring my son back there!"

Now why couldn't Yitzchak make Yaridah? Avraham didn't really give a reason. (Yes, the famous answer is that Yitzchok was already hallowed as an offering so he was too holy to live anywhere but Eretz Yisrael, but Avraham didn't say that in the text.) I think if we look closely at this near admonishment we see Avraham didn't need a reason. He's saying "Eliezer, G-d himself promised me my offspring is going to be here in Eretz Yisrael. This is where he wants his chosen people. So, does it even make any sense what you are asking? G-d, who promised me Eretz Yisrael, is leading you to find him a wife. Don't you think he knows what he's doing? If she doesn't want to make Aliyah - she's obviously not the right one!"

I'll back up what I'm saying a bit with a comment from the Ramban. Above where Avraham tells Eliezer to swear he says, "I will bind you by an oath to G-d, Lord of heaven and earth..." Now the Ramban translates "Ha'aretz" not as "earth" but as "the land," i.e. the land of Israel. And, to prove this the Ramban points out, the second time, Avraham says "G-d, the Lord of heaven" and omits Ha'aretz. He did this:

...because he was the in Haran or Ur of the Chaldees. So the Rabbis have said: He who lives outside the land of Israel is as if he had no G-d, as it said, For they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave unto the inheritance of the Eternal, saying, Go serve other gods.

The Gemarah the Ramban is quoting from Kesubos 110b continues, "But who said to David, Go serve other gods? However this verse teaches you that he who lives outside the land of Israel is considered as if he worshipped idols." Pretty harsh language from the Rabbis. But it does explain Avraham's equally harsh tone: "But [no matter what,] do not bring my son back there!"

I, for one, have only dated, and will continue to only date girls that want to make Aliyah or have already made it. And if she doesn't want to live in Eretz HaKedoshah she obviously is not for me.


Blogger Kalman said...

Nice work!
I agree- would never date a girl who isn't will to make the move. Its part of my haskafah.

8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Warning- don't fool yourself into thinking that just becasue she says she will make aliyah that she realy will. If it is realy importent than move to isreal first and than get married otherwise you will find out what it is like to realy want to move but your wife "changed her mind".

1:51 PM  
Blogger Pinchas said...

Anonymous - Good point. So I did move first. (At the same time I *do* know people that got married saying they will make aliyah and stuck to the game plan and came - though I do know the other side of the coin too.)

12:32 PM  

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