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Did you know you are a "shadchan?"

Friday, 22 November, 2019 - 2:33 pm

 

Many are enamored with the concept of a “shadchan,” the mythological matchmaker from Old World Europe who paired the young boys and girls in the shtetl for marriage. While most impressions of how matchmakers did their job are probably exaggerated, most traditional Jewish marriages until today are arranged by a shadchan who brings the two sides together.

In fact, today Shainy and I are celebrating ten years from our engagement, and we met through the arrangements of a shadchan.

The first time a shadchan was used in recorded history is in this week’s parsha. Avraham is seeing a wife for his son Yitzchak and instructs his servant Eliezer to travel to Charan to bring back the perfect girl from his extended family.

The entire mission was a miraculous adventure. His caravan of ten camels covered a distance of several weeks in several hours and while waiting at the well at the outskirts of town Eliezer made a deal with G-d: The first girl to offer him a sip of water would be the lucky catch.

The plan worked and when Rivka came out to the well he asked her for water and she went above and beyond, offering to draw water for the camels as well. When he inquired about her family and discovered she was Avraham’s great niece he was overcome with gratitude to G-d for bringing it all together.

She introduced him to her parents and now Eliezer was tasked with convincing them to agree to the match - the job description of a shadchan. He told them the details of his adventure and hearing how miraculous it was they understood that it was “bashert - meant to be” that Rivka marry Yitzchak.

Instead of writing “Eliezer told them the story of how he met Rivka” which the reader has just read, the Torah repeats the entire conversation with all the details that had just been related to us several verses earlier. Over fifty verses are dedicated to this seemingly unnecessary matchmaking story.

This is even more striking considering that tens of thousands of laws pertaining to the 613 mitzvot are merely alluded to in slight nuances, whereas the story of the first shadchan is repeated in all of its detail!

This match represents the story of Judaism. Rivka came from Charan (Hebrew for “anger), a heathen society steeped in promiscuity that it was the source of G-d’s anger at the world. Eliezer’s mission was to unite Rivka, who hailed from such a low moral background, to Yitzchak, the epitome of holiness and divinity.

This is what Judaism is all about. To elevate even the lowliest of realities and reveal the inherent divinity and goodness within it. The rest of the Torah tells us how to do it, but this matchmaker’s story teaches us that every one of us is a “shadchan” empowered to unite the entire world with G-d and pave the way for the era of Moshiach when goodness and kindness will prevail for all.

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