The Moral Choice Parshat Chayeh Sarah

Have you ever had to make a big decision? A decision that could change your life dramatically, that requires you to question your values and ethics?

In my parshah, Abraham sends his servant (the midrash says the servant is Eliezer) to find Isaac a wife. Eliezer goes to Aram and prays to God that he will find a suitable wife for Isaac. Eliezer meets Rebekah, and she gets water for him and his camels. They decide that Rebekah should come back with Eliezer to marry Isaac.

In this parshah, there is an unusual trope called the shalshelet, which only comes four times in the Torah. Whenever there is a shalshelet in the book of Genesis, a character is having trouble making a decision. In this instance, Eliezer wants to find a wife for Isaac so he can inherit Abraham’s land, but a midrash says that Eliezer also wants the land for himself. The midrash says that Eliezer has his own daughter. He weighs the option of choosing his own daughter to marry Isaac, so that he can get the land.

Eliezer was faced with a moral dilemma. If he presented his daughter to Isaac, his family would become rich by inheriting Abraham’s property. But Abraham didn’t ask Eliezer for his daughter, he asked Eliezer to search for a wife for Isaac. This became a moral decision for Eliezer. With mixed feelings, he prays to God that he will find a suitable wife for Isaac. The notes of the shalshelet go up and down, like it cannot make a decision.

Eliezer has trouble deciding between the selfish choice and the moral choice. The selfish choice, which would benefit his family, seems like a good choice for Eliezer. The moral choice, benefiting Abraham and his family, is the right thing to do. After grappling with this decision, Eliezer does the right thing and prays to God that he will find a suitable wife for Isaac.

At times, it is so much easier to do something that benefits ourselves without thinking about the people around us. However, we need to overcome our selfish desires and choose the moral option, regardless of how it impacts us. Now, as an adult, I have the responsibility of thinking about others and how my actions might impact them, not just myself.

Chloe Levine is a seventh-grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School.

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