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Kindness First

When Abraham had buried his wife Sarah and mourned for her appropriately, he turned his mind to caring for his son’s pressing need, and helped him find a wife.

The local women were not appealing in Abraham’s or Isaac’s eyes, so they dispatched Abraham’s servant to Haran to see if any candidates could be found there. Later, both Jacob and even Esau, too, would not marry local Canaanite women, but rather looked to find their wives elsewhere.

Since we know that Abraham maintained good relationships with his neighbours, who helped him fight a war and are described as having shared a covenant with him, it is surprising that Abraham and Isaac would not have been interested in marrying a local woman.

The Torah doesn’t tell us what was seen as so wrong with them. However, we may be able to deduce this from the test which Abraham’s servant used in order to locate a suitable mate for Isaac: He looked for a woman with exceptional, exemplary hospitality and kindness, even to strangers. Though Abraham’s spiritual mission was to bring monotheism to the world, in building the family that would bring this message to the world, kindness was the only concern.

Today, too, our uniqueness of being Jewish and cherishing our Torah and traditions must never be separated from our kindness. Our Torah guides us to be kind with others; being kind with others makes our observance of traditions precious, and should make us proud to be Jewish.

Shabbat Shalom.