The opening Mishnah in Masechet Kiddushin describes three methods a man can use to marry a woman. One of them is using money to make the marriage take effect.
The Gemara there states that this method of matrimony is sourced in a linguistic parallel between the passuk describing marriage (“Ki yikach ish ishah… (Devarim 24:1)) and the passuk in Parshat Chayei Sarah recording Avraham’s purchase of Ma’arat Hamachpelah (“Kessef sadeh kach“ (Bereshit 23:13)). Both pesukim contain the root word kichah, to take, and thus the Gemara extrapolates that marriage may arise from a monetary transaction.
Why does the Gemara use this instance of the word kichah, a word that appears numerous times in the Torah, to teach us about marriage? Is there a deeper connection between marriage and Avraham’s purchase of Maarat HaMachpeilah?
The Gemara at the beginning of the second perek of Kiddushin may hold an answer to this question. There the Gemara says that it is better for a man marrying a woman to give her money for kiddushin himself, rather than send an agent to give the woman money on his behalf. Several Amoraim compare this halacha to making Shabbat preparations, which are also preferable to do on one’s own rather than enlist another to perform the preparations.
One of my rebbeim, Rav Mazer, explained this halacha as one that exemplifies how much a person values mitzvot. Even though a person can technically marry a woman via a third party, or have someone else prepare Shabbat for him, it is better to do the mitzvot by himself to show how much he values the commandment.
Showing how much a person cares about their performance is particularly important in marriage. Since marriage is based on creating an emotional connection, it needs to be performed in the most ideal way.
Avraham Avinu always did mitzvot in the highest form possible. He never let anyone do a mitzvah for him, even though he could technically get credit for the mitzvah anyway. He knew that Hashem gave him and his descendants a mission to acquire land in Eretz Yisrael, and he did not want to wait for someone else to start this process. He negotiated to buy land himself because he valued the commandment to gain land in Israel.
By personally performing every mitzvah he could, Avraham’s showed that he valued the mitzvot above anything else, to the extent that Chazal say that Avraham performed all 613 mitzvot even before he was commanded to do them. Perhaps that is why the Gemara in Kiddushin chooses to use Avraham’s kichah as the source for marriage. Avraham exhibited a love for Hashem’s mitzvot befitting that of the love between husband and wife.
We can learn from Avraham that the time, effort and value a person places on a mitzvah puts the fulfillment of that mitzvah on a higher level. It is not always sufficient to fulfill mitzvot minimally, relying on others to pick up the slack. Performing mitzvot in the truest form possible is the ultimate goal.
Student studying in Yeshivat Hakotel