PARSHAT TOLDOT: LOVE DEPENDS ON NO-THING!
By Sherrie B. Miller
“Isaac loved Esau for game was in his mouth; but Rebecca love Jacob.” (Breishit
The Shlah HaKadosh comments that Isaac’s was a love based on receiving: “for game
was in his mouth.” There was an advantage for Isaac through this relationship with
his son Esau. Chazal teach in Avot 5:16:
“ When love depends on something outside itself and that thing comes to an end,
love comes to an end. When love does not depend on something outside itself, that
love will endure forever. What is a love that depends on something outside itself?
That of Amnon for Tamar. What is a love that does not depend on something outside
itself? That of David and Jonathan.”
For this reason does the Torah use the past tense, “Isaac loved Esau,” since his
love was predicated on the enjoyment of receiving the finely cooked meals; yet this
is a short lived and transitory pleasure.
On the other hand, Rivka’s love for Jacob was a love that depends on nothing, “ahava
she’lo teluya b’davar,” a love that is never extinguished! Thus, the Torah tells
us: “but Rebecca loves Jacob,” in the present tense. Rebecca’s love for Jacob is
constant as it is independent of any external entity.
The Midrash Rabbah 63:6 states that Rivka’s love grew steadily. The love kept accruing
since each present moment turns into the next present moment and love is sustained
and deepened, unlike the moment that passes and is gone forever.
The Rambam describes 3 kinds of love (the highest form of friendship): a friend
for expediency, a friend for peace of mind, and a friend for excellence…”
A friend for expediency is needed for practical reasons, like business partners
or a king vis-à-vis his army.
The friend for peace of mind helps one to satisfy their emotional needs and alleviate
the pervading sense of loneliness. This person is someone that I trust and can depend
Yet, these two types of friendships are more indicative of self-love, in that I
am focused on my personal gain.
The goal of friendship for excellence is a simultaneous striving for the ultimate
good. Each of the pair, are enabled by the other to achieve their best selves, both
individually and concurrently as a couple. Together, we are striving to reach the
same goals and each does their utmost to encourage the other to succeed. A poet
said that love isn’t about looking into each other’s eyes, but rather in looking
in the same direction.
This must be the way we approach dating and its goal is mainly to ascertain if we
are “looking in the same direction.” Romantic love, according to Rav Aviner has
its place, but it is not the main essence and unfortunately Hollywood encourages
people develop false expectations which inevitably end in terrible disappointment,
like a check with no coverage.
Looks, allure, financial status and careers are all fleeting aspects of a human
being. Here today, gone tomorrow. The enduring qualities are the internal ones,
that are expressed in acts of kindness, as demonstrated by Rivka, and the “temimut”
(purity of soul) of Jacob which are the enduring tools for achieving intimacy in
a relationship with my spouse and ultimately with Hashem.
According to Rav Shlomo Aviner, “love is unity. It has been noted that the numerical
values of the word echad (one) and ahava (love) are the same. Love is that state
of being in which two are one, united in their desires, aspirations and fate. The
deeper the awareness and feeling of unity, the stronger is the love.” This is a
daily avodah process that takes root over time, after a commitment is made.
This brings to mind the somewhat comical yet true song sung in Fiddler on the Roof
by Tevye to his wife: “do you love me?” She lists all the things she’s done for
him and all the things they’ve experienced together throughout their many years
of marriage. Then she concludes: “if that’s not love what is?”
The real thing, true love is a lifetime process. If you want to be-loved, you must
love your partner and give him/her all that you’ve got!
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish Matchmaker
on SawYouAtSinai.com and works with
Jewish Singles all over the world. She is an educational guidance counselor,
group leader, pre-marital coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher. Sherrie
is dedicated to promoting and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication
skills in conjunction with Torah values.
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet
Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Before coming to Israel in 1989 from Great Neck, New York, Sherrie taught Judaic
Studies at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Sherrie also educated affiliated and
unaffiliated adults through the “Project Identity” outreach program under the directorship
of Rabbi Yaakov Lerner. Sherrie trained individuals and couples in the laws of Kashrut,
Guidelines of Parenting, Parshat Shavua and Pirkei Avot.
In her work as a Guidance Counselor in the national religious “Mamad” school, "Yehuda
Halevi", Sherrie instructed life skill workshops to students, parents and teachers,
with a focus on communication, conflict resolution and anger management. She also
leads support groups for children of divorce.
Sherrie is certified by the Life Center and leads Parenting workshops based on the
Faber/Mazlish workshops on, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids
Sherrie is an executive board member of the Emunah World Zionist Organization, Mibreishit,
led by Rav Motti Alon, and Nishmat led my Rabbanit Hanna Henkin.
Sherrie’s diverse background in counseling and teaching, combined with torah principles
and values contribute to the depth and quality of her success with clients. Lessons
drawn from her own life transitions make her coaching perspective uniquely inspirational.
Sherrie helps individuals clarify their goals and take masterful action steps to
reach them. Sherrie is professionally known for her guidance in the educational
system as well as her outstanding capabilities teaching interpersonal relationship
skills to groups and individuals.
Having made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage, Sherrie volunteers
as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai, an internet matchmaking site.