a lesson of Eliezer Eved Avraham
by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman
When a person raises himself to a level where he is looking to be someone better.
This week’s Parsha for the most part is the story of the world’s most amazing Shadchan, Eliezer Eved(slave) Avraham who went to find a Shidduch for Yitzchok. As you know, when Eliezer had expressed to Avraham a desire that his daughter marry Yitzchok he was told as is found in Rashi to 24:39 (ארור אתה ). You are inherently not suitable because you come from a Family which is under the title of Arur(Curse) and therefore, go find a different Shidduch and that is what happened. Interestingly, Rabbis tells us, that after this episode, Yatza Michlal Arur(Became Barukh). Eliezer throughout this episode was so faithful, that Yatza Michlal Arur, he wasn’t Arur anymore. It was too late though as the Shidduch had been done. Let’s try to learn something from Eliezer Eved Avraham who was able to go from a category of Arur to non-Arur by his behavior here in the Parsha.
It is said that the Chofetz Chaim could not come to a gathering and he sent instead Rav Meir Shapiro to represent him. He gave Rav Meir Shapiro the Lecure that he wanted him to deliver on behalf of the Chofetz Chaim. When he came there, they had a discussion as to who should speak first. Had the Chofetz Chaim attended, he certainly would have spoken first as the elder’s of the generation and a Kohen to boot. Now that it was the young Rav Meir Shapiro, there was a discussion. Rav Meir Shapiro said I would rather speak last. I would rather speak as late as possible. Let me explain. We have the concept of Shlucho Shel Adam Kemoto, someone who is a Shaliach (Proxy) for someone else is like that person. As long as I have not delivered the speech I am a Shaliach of the Chofetz Chaim. Imagine, Kemoto, I am like the Chofetz Chaim. Let me be Shlucho Shel Adam Kemoto for as long as I possibly can.
In this week’s Parsha, Eliezer does a lot. The riddle is asked how many times does the name Eliezer appear in this week’s Parsha? If you ask it at the Shabbat table you may get different guesses. But unless someone checked the number the person will get it wrong. This is because Eliezer’s name does not appear at all. He is constantly called Eved Avraham. Because you see he fulfilled the Shlucho Shel Adam Kemoto. He wasn’t Eliezer. He wasn’t doing anything for himself. What he was doing was behaving as a Shaliach, Shlucho Shel Adam Kemoto of Avraham Avinu. By behaving that way long enough he actually turned into a M’ain of Avraham Avinu, a M’ain of Klal Yisrael. When a person raises himself to a level where he is looking to be someone better, someone more, and he actually behaves that way long enough, he raises himself even from the Klal of Arur.
There is a parable told about a commoner who wanted to marry the princess. The commoner knew that he can never marry the princess. Just look at him, he had the face of an ordinary person, the face of a commoner. He decided that he would go to a master mask maker. He had the master mask maker make him a special mask. A mask which gave him the face of nobility, the face of importance, the face of wealth and prestige, and that he did. The mask maker gave him a mask and with that he was able to court the princess and marry her. For many years he did not take off that mask. He walked wherever he went with this mask of nobility, prestige, and importance. One day an old friend came to visit him. In anger he said that is not your face. You are wearing a false face, a face of nobility, a face of importance? In his anger he ripped the mask off the face of this man and they gasped. Underneath the mask, his own natural face had turned into a face which was identical to the face on the mask.
The point of the parable is that if you put on the mask of something greater, something better, something bigger, you aren’t a phony. You really mean to aspire to that. You wear the mask, you act that way, then you can go from an Arur to a Baruch. You can go from something less to something more.
Rav Avidor Miller used to say over that when he was in the Slabodka Yeshiva he was part of a Mussar Vaad. Every month they would work on one Middah. One month they gathered and discussed what Middah(character) to work on. The suggestion came to work on the Middah of Emet. As Rabbi Miller said, there was one big scholar who said Emet? Everyone works with Emet. Let’s spend this month to work on serving Hashem with Sheker. They decided that for that month they would serve Hashem with Sheker. The Sheker would be that they would aspire, they would pretend to be on a higher level. They would behave as if they were on a different level. They would say I can do this, I want to do that. For that month they worked on Sheker.
Many years later, here in America, Rabbi Avigdor Miller would teach his Talmidim to work with Sheker. Say that I am doing this L’sheim Shamayim,(sake of heaven) even if you are not. Say to yourself I am doing it L’sheim Shamayim. Say it often enough and eventually you will. Eventually you will become the mask.
I say the same thing to all of you Bnei Torah who go out to work. Keep the mask of the Ben Torah, keep the face of the Ben Torah. Keep the attitude of the Ben Torah. When you look in the mirror, see the Ben Torah. Aspire to it. Here you don’t have to go from Arur to Baruch, you just have to be careful not to slip from Baruch to Arur. Wherever you go, wherever you Daven, wherever you learn, have that face, that expression. Even if in your heart you suddenly turn to care about silly things like sports and entertainment, never admit it, never express it. You will get to where you have to be. Fake it until you make it A lesson of Eliezer Eved Avraham.
Ticket for entry into the Jewish People
By Rabbi Dovid Winiarz Z”l
One day, Thomas Edison came home and gave his mother a note. He told her, “My teacher gave me this paper and said to give it to my mother.” His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child:
“Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers for training him. Please teach him yourself.” After many, many years, Edison’s mother died, and he had become one of the greatest inventors of the century. One day he began looking through old family things. Suddenly he saw a folded paper in the corner of a drawer in a desk. He took it and opened it up. On the paper was written: “Your son is addled
Edison cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child that, by a hero mother, became the genius of the century.” We’ll come back to the story in a moment. In Parshas Chayei Sarah it says: “Let it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please, tip over your pitcher that I may drink’… will be the one whom You have destined for your servant, Yitzchak.”
Knowing his mission was so important, Eliezer began his quest for a wife for Yitzchak with a prayer that HaShem make him successful in his efforts. This shows us the importance and efficacy of prayer, and how integral it is to success in any endeavor. Eliezer then included a sign of how G-d should identify the proper wife. It would be the one he asked for water who would respond, “Drink, and I will water your camels, too.” What was so special about this sign?
Yes, it was special that she was willing to do more than asked and that she had the understanding to surmise that the camels might be thirsty, but there was more than meets the eye in this question and answer. You see, Eliezer asked to drink from HER pitcher, the one that she and he family would drink from. He was a stranger, and who knew what kind of diseases he might have? Yet, instead of denying him water, or pouring it off into another vessel, she gladly gave him water from her own pitcher so he would not be embarrassed.
Now, she couldn’t wash it off or he would still be embarrassed. The solution? Water the camels! After that she would surely have to wash the pitcher before bringing it home. He wouldn’t be embarrassed and she would not be hesitant to perform the kindness. By including “I will water your camels” in his sign, Eliezer indicated he was searching for someone not only willing to do the work of chesed, but clever enough to find creative solutions to do it!
In fact, Rivka exceeded his request because had she immediately said, “I will give you and your camels,” Eliezer might have guessed her plan and felt bad. She therefore waited until he had finished drinking, and then said, seemingly as an afterthought, “Let me give your camels a drink as well.” Rivka exhibited an even greater sense of consideration for others than he had hoped.
Rivka’s concern for others, and willingness to go out of her way not to trouble or pain them, was her ticket for entry into the Jewish People, and this attribute was passed along to her children. We must strive to awaken this mida in ourselves for it is there, very powerful, and the key to much of our success in life.
Now back to Thomas Edison. The story is apocryphal (not true.) He knew that his teacher thought him mentally deficient (he had learning disability which was unknown at the time) and walked out of school on his own. However, I included the story because it COULD have happened. It still CAN happen. Some parent, friend, spouse, or acquaintance can find ways to motivate, encourage, and be creative in the kindness they do with others. Perhaps this story will give people ideas and set off light bulbs in their heads as to how they can help make a person into a legend.
First Aliyah: Sarah died at the age of 127, and her grieving husband Avraham identified a plot in the city of Hebron that he wished to procure for use as a family burial ground. This plot, a cave situated in the Machpela field, belonged to Ephron the Hittite, so Avraham approached the Hittite tribe and asked for permission to purchase the parcel of land. Originally Ephron wished to give the plot to Avraham as a gift, but after Avraham insisted on paying full price the acquisition was concluded with Avraham paying 400 premium silver coins.
Second Aliyah: Having acquired the land, Avraham buried Sarah in the Cave of Machpela. At this point, Avraham summoned his servant and charged him with the mission of finding a suitable wife for his sonYitzchok. Avraham had his servant swear that he would not take a wife for Yitzchok from the local Canaanite women. Instead, he asked him to travel to Aram, his native land, and find a wife for Yitzchok there.
Third Aliyah: The servant set out for his master’s homeland and evening time found him beside the city well. He prayed for success in his mission, and asked for a heavenly sign to confirm his choice of a girl for Yitzchok. He would ask a maiden for a drink of water, and the one who would answer: “Certainly, and I’ll also give your camels to drink as well,” would be the proper choice for Yitzchok. Immediately a young lady approached and in response to the servant’s request for a drink, she offered to give his camels to drink too. Upon questioning her, he discovered that she was Avraham’s great-niece, Rivka.
Fourth Aliyah: Rivka ran to tell her family about the man at the well, and her brother, Lavan, went out, greeted the servant, and invited him to spend the night. The servant told Rivka ‘s family the purpose of his mission to the city, and recounted the heavenly sign that designated Rivka as his master’s son’s wife. Rivka ‘s family agreed that the match was divinely ordained, and consented to the proposed match.
Fifth Aliyah: Rivka’s family celebrates the engagement together with Avraham’s servant. Next morning, the servant insisted on immediately returning to his master with the maiden in hand, and after Rivka agreed, the two set out for Canaan. Yitzchok married Rivka, loved her, and finally found consolation for the loss of his mother.
Sixth Aliyah: Avraham remarried and fathered several more children. Before his death, however, Avraham gave gifts to his other children and sent them all away, and bequeathed all the rest of his possessions to Yitzchok. Avraham died at the age of 175, and was buried by Yitzchok and Ishmael in the cave of Machpela beside his wife, Sarah.
Seventh Aliyah: Ishmael’s children are detailed in this section. Ishmael passed away at the age of 137.
Miriam Epstein bought a new piano and took up playing again after loving the instrument in her youth.
One day, the doorbell rang and Mrs. Epstein discovered a workman, complete with tool chest, on the front porch.
“Madam,” he announced, “I’m the piano tuner.”
Mrs. Epstein exclaimed, “Why, I didn’t send for a piano tuner.”
The man replied, “I know you didn’t, but the Teitlebaums, your neighbors did.”