This week’s Parasha, opens with the death of Sarah. Sarah lived 127 years, and was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, which Abraham bought from the Hittites. Abraham decides that a wife should be found for his son Isaac, and directs his servant Eliezer to search for this wife. Abraham cautions Eliezer not to take a Canaanite woman for Isaac, so Eliezer travels to Abraham’s birthplace.
Upon his arrival, Rebecca, Abraham’s niece, comes to the well at which Eliezer and his entourage is resting. Through her words and actions, her kindness and generosity, Eliezer knows that she is “the one” for Isaac. Eliezer is welcomed into Rebecca’s father’s house, and it is agreed that Rebecca will go to Canaan to become Isaac’s wife. Isaac was meditating in the field when he first saw Rebecca.
Our rabbis tell us that Isaac was not merely meditating and communing with nature, but was engaging in prayer, for he had instituted that tradition of the Minchah afternoon prayer service (Talmud Brachot 25a). The afternoon prayer service is the shortest of the three daily prayer services. Often popularly called “that pause that refreshes,” it is a service during the middle of the day that affords the worshipper an additional opportunity to cultivate genuine appreciation of the true blessings of life.
Prayer is an opportunity for us to connect with God. In order to connect, I have to open myself up. This is also true in terms of interpersonal relationships. In order for me to connect with another person, I have to open myself up to them, be open to their world and how they see it.
Our relationship with God shapes our relationship with other human beings. A genuine conversation between two people is like prayer. In prayer, I am looking for the presence of God. I am listening and speaking, opening myself up to something other than what I am seeing, to something bigger than myself, to becoming something bigger than myself. The same can be said in terms of a conversation between two people. How appropriate that Isaac was seen praying when he first met Rebecca, the woman with whom he would share his life and become bigger than who he was on his own.