Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Chayei Sarah – Genesis 23:1-25:18

How many times have you spoken to your spouse with the best intentions only to have your words completely misinterpreted? Likewise, have you done a friend a favor only to find the adage “no good deed goes unpunished” seems to apply? I’ve written before about how G-d judges intentions. So why doesn’t He make things work out the way you intend? Parshas Chayei Sarah explains what’s going on:

“Let it be the maiden to whom I say. ‘Please tip over your jug so that I may drink,’ and who replies, ‘Drink, and I will even water your camels,’ her you will have designated for Your servant, for Isaac…” (Bereshis/Genesis 24:14).

How Your Best Intentions are Harming People

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with the death of Sarah. Abraham purchases a burial site, inters her, and devotedly mourns. Then he orders Eliezer, his servant, to find a wife for Isaac. Next, Abraham remarries. The narrative concludes with his death and the death of Ishmael.

God Knows Your Intentions

The Midrash notes the impropriety of Eliezer’s above request. According to his plea any woman, no matter what her status, would fit the bill. Nonetheless, knowing that Eliezer acted with the best intentions the Almighty sent him the saintly Rebecca. Why did He treat him so kindly?

Until he received Abraham’s instructions for finding Isaac a wife, Eliezer had hoped his daughter would marry his master’s son. Finding this was not to be, he nonetheless faithfully carried out his duty. He lost no time preparing for and setting out on his journey. He fervently prayed for success, beseeching G-d to, “Do kindness with my master.”

Clarify Your Intentions Before Acting

Notice Eliezer’s clarity of intentions. From the outset, he sought a woman of character. He brought gifts to persuade her family to consent to the marriage. All his arrangements focused on a successful outcome for Isaac and Abraham.

By engaging in such preparation you can ensure your true intentions are sound:

  1. Whatever you are saying or doing, it should come from devotion to the other person.
  2. Resolve to have his or her best interest at heart.
  3. When you speak with your spouse, child, or friend, plan your words in advance. How could you be misinterpreted?
  4. Likewise with your actions. Could something you do be misconstrued? Explaining your behavior beforehand may make your intentions clear.

Assumptions Defeat Clarity

It’s easy to think your intentions are clear. After all, you know what you’re thinking. But the only way others can know is if you tell them. Now that you have to articulate your meaning you may find you’re not as certain. Taking the time to assure your heart, words, and actions are aligned with your intentions will help you build solid relationships based on mutual understanding.

Question – How do you make sure your speech and behavior match your intentions? Please leave a comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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