D'var Torah

Parsha Insight | Chayei Sarah

In this week’s parsha, Eliezer, Abraham’s trusted servant, is sent by Abraham to find a wife for his son Isaac. The story presents Eliezer in a positive light determined to fulfill the wishes of his master. Yet, there is one rabbinic tradition that casts some doubt about Eliezer’s intentions. When Eliezer reaches Rebecca’s house, he retells the story of how Abraham has sent him to find a wife for Isaac. He recounts how he expressed concern to Abraham that he would be unable to find a wife for Isaac and that Abraham had promised that if he was unable to find a wife, he would free from his promise. Rashi comments on a strange spelling of the word “ulai” in Eliezer’s explanation that maybe he will be unable to find the appropriate wife for Isaac. Rashi says that “ulai” is spelled without a vav to present to possible meaning of “eilai”— to me —. Rashi explains that Eliezer had a daughter and had wanted Isaac to marry his daughter. However, Abraham informed him that Isaac must marry someone from their own family.

The Sefat Emet asks why Eliezer waits to express this personal desire until his retells the story to Laban and Betuel. Why didn’t he tell it directly to Abraham when he was being instructed to find Isaac a wife. The Sefat Emet answers that Eliezer did not tell Laban and Betuel that he wanted Isaac to marry his daughter in order to complain or to express frustration. Rather, he told this to Rebecca’s family in order to let them know that Isaac was a “good catch” as reflected in the fact that Eliezer wanted him to marry his daughter. In this way, in case they had any hesitancy about allowing Rebecca to marry Isaac, they would realize that it was indeed a very good shidduch. Eliezer was the trusted servant of Abraham always thinking about what was best for his master and his master’s family.


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