Got Orthonomics in your Email Box?

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Parsha Note: Do-It-Herself

We just read Chayei Sarah where of course the main event is the making of the shidduch between Yitzchak Avinu and Rivkah Imanu. A comment of the Malbim caught my eye (from the Artscroll Chumash): "Eliezer was not interested in a wealthy girl for Issac. He preferred someone of modest means, the kind who would go to draw water herself, not have servants do it for her."

Seems the Torah is trying to tell us that those with a do-it-herself personality are good marriage material.


mlevin said...

I have a few problems with that comment.

1. Those who have servants drawing water for them are employing someone. This servant is therefor, able to feed herself and her family, who might otherwise be hungry.

2. Drawing water is not only a physical exersize, it is also time consuming. Instead of drawing water one can delegate that task to a servant and do something else in the mean time.

3. Itzhak was a rich man with servants just like his father, a simple girl would not know how to treat servants and that could be very counter productive in the household.

My best friend married a bangladeshi man and a few years ago they moved there to live. They have about 8 servants, but it is her mother in law who is hiring/firing/disciplining them. My friend just does not have proper skills to do that. Her children, however, being raised in that environment, are able to do that naturally. She actually leaves that type of instruction to her nine year old.

Ahavah B. said...

And in spite of the fact that Laban "changed his wages 10 times" Ya'akov stuck it out and earned a living for himself and his family, built up his resources and only then left his bad situation - certainly a do-it-yourself attitude, and one the husband of the woman in the job is a job is a job post ought to emulate..

Ahavah B. said...

Oops - forgot something:

Abraham, etc., were wealthy and did have servants, and having servants per se is not wrong or immoral. It only becomes immoral when they are treated badly and purposefully underpaid for their work (such as illegal aliens), and it becomes wrong when the money you spend hiring servants is more properly spent elsewhere - i.e. the motive for hiring is to appear wealthy when one is not, or to avoid chores out of laziness or a sense of arrogance.

If neither of these apply, it is certainly a good thing to offer an employment opportunity to someone who needs it.

Ariella said...

A mitzvah is considered greater when one does it oneself (begufo) rather than having someone else do it on one's behalf. Therefore, rabbis in the Gemara say that they were careful to do certain tasks in preparation for Shabbos themselves -- not just to have the maid do them.
From the episode of Avraham with the melachim we learn that there is far more merit to doing the act of chessed oneself. That is why Yisrael had some trouble with water in the midbar because Avraham said "yukach" on the water rather than drawing it himself. In contrast, he personally looked after the food preparation.

mlevin said...

Exactly, Avraham did not do food preparation, he suppervised it. ie someone else did it. And drawing water is also part of food preparation, it's not as if they had running water in the midbar. Right?

SephardiLady said...

I see no reason a girl of exemplary middot (we are told she only absorbed the good) would be unable to treat servants properly.

Lion of Zion said...

"Seems the Torah is trying to tell us that those with a do-it-herself personality are good marriage material."

it (along with all the other marriage accounts) also seems to be telling us that there is nothing wrong with a BT/convert. but no one pays attention to that either

frumhouse said...

Well, my cleaning lady left and now I am doing it all does give one a sense of satisfaction and you can keep better control of how and what is being done...

miriamp said...

also seems to be telling us that there is nothing wrong with a BT/convert. but no one pays attention to that either

Says who? I know a whole bunch of BT/converts married to FFBs. (including me... I grew up not shomer shabbos, etc.)

Halfnutcase said...

its better that bts and gerim marry ffbs, helps with integrating them in to the system, and even more so their kids. (and I say this as an FFB child of two gerrim)

You have no idea just how dissorienting it is to not even have jewish family, much less frum, and most of the non-jewish family is quite hostile. It really deprives you of social support. Not to mention the isolation and the lack of understanding the subtle things you can only pick up from family.

besides, its clear with all of the avos that they listened to their wives and considered it a g-d given command to do so. and when their wives didn't like what they did, they went behind thier backs, which is, I think, a g-d given imparative to women to make sure that their children are raised right with or without their husbands consent, and for the husband not to criticize their wives for it, or harbor any resentment in their hearts.

Lion of Zion said...


"Says who?"

says someone who lives in brooklyn. where do you live?