Chayyei Sarah- Love is in the Water
In this week’s parasha (Chayei Sarah), Abraham’s servant is sent on a very important errand – to go back to the Land of Haran to find a suitable wife for Isaac. After some clarifying questions, his (nameless) servant leaves, and find his way back to Abraham’s ancestral homeland. Stopping at a well at the outskirts of Nahor, he prays to God that the wife-to-be reveal herself to him in a very specific way:
“Here I stand by the spring as the daughters of the townsmen come out to draw water; let the maiden to whom I say ‘Please, lower your jar that I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will also water your camels’- let her be the one whom You have decreed for your servant Isaac” (Genesis, 24:13-14)
As luck, or divine intervention would have it, Rebekah shows up immediately and that precise conversation happens. In the language of Staples…. that was easy. Isaac marries Rebekah, and the rest is (Jewish) history.
This story of a meeting at a well preceding an important marriage occurs, famously, two other times early in the Torah: when Jacob meets Rachel, and when Moses meets Tzipporah. That the Tanakh repeats familiar scenes, words, or language, is not a new idea. Neither is the idea that ancient wells, where commerce took place, where people gathered, or where travelers exchanged news, were a hub of activity and Biblical matchmaking.
Fast forward 3900 or so years from the events of this story, though and you might be asking yourself what the modern-day equivalent of a well would be. Where might you go after a long journey to feel refreshed, or to perk up a little bit? If you’re like me, the first thing I do is get coffee.
Imagine sending your friend to help find you a husband or wife at not a well, but at Starbucks, and praying to God saying “Here I stand in line at Starbucks, waiting for my app to load, and the next person who orders a Pumpkin Spice Latte and offers to buy my drink – let her/him be the one You have decreed for my best friend.”
In truth, stranger things have happened. My parents met over the last bagel at a Hillel breakfast, I met my wife in line at a party at Brandeis, so it’s not rare at all, actually, to have food, or beverages, involved in love stories, both Biblical and modern.
Shabbat Shalom, and for those of you looking for love, keep your eyes open at Starbucks or Whole Foods this week. You never know who you might meet.