God’s Direction of Human Life

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Genesis 22:2 says that it was told to Abraham that there was new lineage born to his family. Why was this communication included in Torah? Rashi (Ibid.) says Abraham initially intended to seek a bride for Isaac from his friends Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Rashi also says, “God told Abraham that Isaac’s mate Rebecca was  born.” But this part of Rashi can’t be literal, as we clearly read in the verses, Abraham was not told that Rebecca was the intended bride for Isaac. Had this been so, he would not have had Eliezer seek someone “in general,” but he would have told Eliezer to retrieve Rebecca by name. 

As we see that Abraham does not approach Aner, Eshkol or Mamre, the news that Abraham’s family had new lineage was needed for Abraham to avoid seeking a daughter in law from his 3 friends, to find a more choice bride for Isaac from his own family. That was how Abraham responded. Abraham would have been correct to go to his three friends for a daughter-in-law. But he now changed course as he determined his own family was a better choice. Perhaps this is also why Abraham desired a son, has he knew his teachings would be better received by the world when a son transmits his father’s lessons, as opposed to an unrelated student. Now, Abraham again preferred family over others to marry Isaac.

This portion of Torah is teaching that even man's greatest intentions cannot penetrate the depths of God's plan, and therefore God directed Abraham to avoid a lesser caliber person as a daughter-in-law. But just as God did not tell Rebecca years later how to formulate a plan to secure the birthright for Jacob, but only made Esav hairy, and showed her Jacob clutching Esav’s heel, God also did not give the specifics to Abraham here and allowed him to use his mind. God always provides the essential elements to the chocham which are necessary for him or her to use intelligence to benefit the world through their own cunning. God helps righteous people who seek Him out, to engage their minds in all areas. God provided only clues to Rebecca to secure Jacob as the fit heir, and God gave subtle direction to Abraham too. 

This is God’s way: He helps the righteous, the wise, and prophets engage their minds in all areas, and He does not spell-out the steps.