[First posted on The Times of Israel at: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/chayei-sarah-to-parents-of-singles/]
Netziv Genesis: Chayei Sarah
To Parents of Singles
“The joys of parents are secret, and so are their grieves and fears.” -Francis Bacon
There is a unique, special joy that a parent feels upon the successful marriage of their child. Likewise, there is a unique, special pain a parent feels when a child fails to connect with their life’s mate.
There is much debate, discussion and controversy as to the extent a parent should be involved in encouraging and facilitating the marriage of their child, if at all. Obviously much will depend on the individual personalities, family dynamics, relationships and more. Some parents are known to harass their children about the topic to the point of seriously damaging the child-parent relationship. Some parents shy away from the topic as if it were some divine command to steer clear of even hinting at the issue, but then leave the child without any guidance or support. Most fall somewhere in between, doing their best to walk the tightrope of feelings, emotions, hopes, expectations and disappointments that life throws our way.
When it is time for our Patriarch Isaac to marry, we find his father Abraham completely in the driver’s seat. Abraham gives the direction, provides the priorities, the funding, all the resources and assistance he can bring to bear, to ensure that his son marries well. The entire episode is curiously prefaced by the statement that Abraham was old. The Netziv on Genesis 24:1 explains that the details of Abraham’s age are to clarify for us the reason Abraham himself did not personally go to seek Isaac’s bride. If he would have been younger and of stronger health, the Netziv says, Abraham would have had the obligation to personally travel to Haran to see to and ensure the matching of Isaac with Rebecca.
The Netziv makes it clear that a parent is obligated to do all they can, all that is within their means and capacity, (with diplomacy and sensitivity), to encourage, support and enable the marriage of their children.
May we dance at many weddings together.
In memory of my grandmother Zahava Rosenthal, on the first Yarzheit since she left us. One of her special gifts and joys was to match couples together.