After the death of Sarah and her burial, Abraham began the search for a wife for his son Isaac. Abraham sent his trusted servant Eliezer to his former homeland.
There, Eliezer encountered a girl drawing water at a well, who offered to give both him and his camels water to drink.
This girl he discovered was Rebecca, the niece of Isaac.
Rebecca’s brother Laban enthusiastically invited Eliezer to his home. Rebecca’s family admitted that the match was divinely ordained, but nonetheless insisted upon asking Rebecca if she consented.
From this event emerges the Jewish custom to always ask the bride for consent and report it under the Chuppah wedding canopy when reading out the ketuba.
After a week-long celebration, Eliezer insists on returning home to Abraham with the new bride for Isaac. Rebecca first sights Isaac from afar meditating in the fields and falls from her camel.
They were married and settled down into a loving relationship, which also acted as a consolation for Isaac on the recent loss of his mother.
From here some derive that marriage can come first and love afterwards. True love only matures with time, and it is with age and experience that love becomes stronger.
Abraham remarried Keturah and had more children, all of whom he sent to live in other lands.
Our sages teach that marrying twice over can be a good move, as one will never know which children from which union will emerge as worthy offspring.
Abraham gave, inter vivos, all his possessions to Isaac. Abraham died at the age of 175 and was buried alongside his wife Sarah by both Isaac and Ishmael in the Cave in Hebron.
Thus, the rift between the brothers healed and Ishmael is remembered alongside Yitzhak as two righteous offspring of their parents.
Rabbi Ariel Abel is rabbi of Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and padre to HM Cadet Forces on Merseyside