by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – November 15, 2011

In the beginning of the Torah section of Chaye Sarah, we read that Abraham’s son Isaac had come of age.  After G-d’s miraculously giving Abraham’s wife Sarah the ability to conceive a child at an advanced age and subsequently testing Abraham’s and Isaac’s conviction, the time had come for Isaac to marry.  To this purpose, Abraham sent out his trusted servant Eliezer to find the fitting bride.  “And Abraham said to his servant, the elder of his household who controlled all that was his…’And I will have you swear by G-d, the L-rd of heaven and the L-rd of earth, that you not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell.  Rather, to my land and to my kindred shall you go and take a wife for my son for Isaac.’  And the servant said to him: ‘Perhaps the woman shall not wish to follow me to this land; shall I take your son back to the land from which you departed?’  And Abraham answered him, ‘Beware not to return my son to there.  G-d, the L-rd of heaven, Who spoke concerning me, and Who swore to me saying, ‘To your offspring will I give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there.  But if the woman will not wish to follow you, you shall then be absolved of this oath of mine; however, do not return my son to there.’” (Bereshit 24:2-8)

In his Darash Moshe, the latter-day Torah giant R. Moshe Feinstein makes a noteworthy comment on the aforementioned verse.  We see that even if Eliezer were to have found a very fitting wife for Isaac but that woman would refuse to return with him to Abraham, Eliezer was sworn not to bring Isaac out with him.  Abraham would rather he find a less fitting wife if that would mean Isaac’s not needing to leave his surroundings.  So important is being in fitting surroundings and in the right kind of atmosphere that Abraham would rather compromise on the level of Isaac’s bride as long as Isaac would not go to surroundings that are not fitting to him.

In this anecdote, R. Feinstein suggests, we are being taught by the Torah of the importance to stay out of harm’s way.  The wrong surroundings can be very damaging to our development – more than we may think.