• Rabbi Shmuel Brazil

Eliezer and the Heart of the Earth | Parshas Chayei Sarah

When Eliezer was asked to seek a proper shidduch for Yitzchak, his master Avraham made him swear by Hashem who was the G-d over the earth and the heavens that he should not take a bride for Yitzchak from the nations of Canaan. Rather, he should go to his birthplace and take a wife for his son from there. Rashi asks (Bereishis 23,7) why during the swearing, we find Avraham mentioning the description of Hashem as being the G-d over the earth which in contrast when Avraham described Hashem at the time He delivered him from his father's house, Avraham described Hashem only as the G-d of the heavens?

The parsha goes through a lengthy elaboration of Eliezer repeating to Besuail and the family the account of his encounter with Rivka and the reason why he chose her to be the bride of Yitzchak. As Eliezer is repeating the details of his encounter with Rivka he mentions the following. ואבוא היום אל העין I came today to the well. Rashi comments today I left and today I arrived. From here we learn that his journey was miraculously shortened. Rashi continues with the words of Rav Acha יפה שיחתן של עבדי אבות מתורתן של בנים the ordinary conversation of the Avos' servants is even more cherished by Hashem than the Torah of their children. For, the section dealing with Eliezer, is repeated in the Torah whereas many fundamentals of the Torah were given only through allusions.

Many questions are asked on these words of Rashi. Why did Rashi wait until passuk 42 before providing us with this information of Hashem's cherishment? The source of Rashi here is from Sanhedrin 95 and Rav Achah makes his statement in association to passuk 32 of the recounting? Another question on Rashi is why did he incorporate and combine together these two seemingly diverse interpretations of the miracle of shortening Eliezer's journey and the cherishment of the ordinary talk of the servants of the Avos? Furthermore, why is the term עבדי אבות in the plural form. Only by Eliezer alone do we find this portrayal of cherishment for his ordinary talk?

To answer all of the above we will bring the words of the Arugas Habosem in the parsha with a few additions to his insightful words. The passuk says ויקרא אלקים ליבשה ארץ Hashem called the dry land eretz. The Medrash says that Hashem gave the eretz its name because it ran רצ to fulfill the רצון, the will of its creator. Question. Didn't every creation run to fulfill the desire of Hashem. However, writes the Arugas Haqbosem, here lies the difference between it and other creations such as the shamayim. The Eretz's existence is to be distant from Hashem. In the eretz will dwell all negative forces that seek to go against Hashem like avodah zarah, the yetzer harah etc. During the Flood, the laws of earth's nature were distorted and three handbreadths of earth were washed away because of the sins of the generation. With all this negativity that was destined to happen to it, one response could have been I am not happy with the selection of me being earth. It could have complained just like the lower waters, as Chazal tell us that they cried and continue to do because they don't want to exist with such a far distance from Hashem. However, the eretzaccepted its position in the lower world without any self pity and ran with excitement to become the earth which Hashem desired it to be.

We would like to bring a hinting to this concept. The gematriah of יבשה is 317 יאוש which means to despair and give up hope. The earth could have become melancholy and complain yet it ran with a happiness to fulfill the wish of its creator. It did not fall into יאוש but rather rejoiced in its mission even though it was wrought with lowness and impurities. To this greatness of the earth Dovid Hamelech refers to when he writes in Tehillim (101,6) עיני בנאמני ארץ לשבת עמדי הולך בדרך תמים הוא ישרתני Hashem says My eyes are with those who possess the faithfulness of the earth. They follow in a wholesome path and will sit with Me and serve Me. Man who was created from earth, must learn from it that he must accept the position and mission of life that Hashem places him with, together with its unique plusses and minuses, strengths and weaknesses, lows and highs.

Take for example בתיה the daughter of Pharaoh who was raised in the house of evil and avodah zarah. What could eventually become of her with such beginnings of lowness? Yet she merited to raise Moshe Rabeinu in her palace and is even given the title of being his mother (Megillah 13). The letters of her name are the acronym of the passuk above הולך בדרך תמים הוא ישרתני. This teaches that even the giyores whose origins are steeped with tumah can become a grand Kiddush Hashem.

When Avraham made Eliezer swear to fulfill his mission exactly as he was told, Avraham added the title אלקי הארץ . This literally means He was the G-d of earth referring to the earth itself and not to its inhabitants. For an individual demonstrates his full acceptance of Hashem when he runs to fulfill His words, even when it not only lacks glamor and fulfillment but it feels like you were given a raw deal compared to others and their positions. This is alluded to in the letters of ארץ. The first two letters אר which stem from the word ארור curse. The last two letters spell רץ.

Chazal tell us that Eliezer had a personal interest with the shidduch of Yitzchak for he was hoping that somehow his own daughter would marry into Avraham's family. Had this ulterior motive played even a slight role during his mission which was entirely in his hands, the shidduch would have been sabotaged. Avraham sought to strengthen Eliezer's resolve to serve his master with the utmost of virtue, honesty, and self negation in order to ensure the success of the shidduch. Avraham therefore made him swear by Hashem G-d of the heavens and G-d of the earth. Constantly throughout his mission Eliezer must remember that Hashem is the G-d of the earth, a place of lowliness and decadence because it accepted with happiness its role to be the dwelling place for man to execute his gift of free choice. Chazal even say עיקר שכינה בתחתונים the Shechinah essentially dwells on earth not in the heavens. This was a teaching for Eliezer to realize and be conscious of that to win Hashem's grace one must accept his role and position in life as Hashem designated to him and fulfill them to the best of his ability. Then even he will merit to become part of the נאמני ארץ to sit with Hashem, be with Him and to serve Him.

Eliezer swore to Avraham his allegiance and his commitment to fulfill his mission. As he left on his trip the Torah tells us that he miraculously arrived the same day he left. In the words of Chazal קפצה לו הארץ the earth jumped for him. Eliezer committed himself to hear and embody the earth's message to Man which was created from the same substance of earth. This is hinted in the gematriah of יבשה the same as אליעזר. When an individual like Eliezer takes upon himself to serve Hashem with great sacrifice in the role that was designed for him, then the earth facilitates miracles of רץ which is its praiseworthy nature, demonstrated to those who areבנאמני ארץ faithful and emulate its ways.

נאמני ארץ is the gematria אמת When Eliezer saw Hashem's hand in the shidduch the passuk says ואקד ואשתחוה לה' ואברך את ה' אלקי אדני אברהם אשר הנחני בדרך אמת Eliezer thanked Hashem for leading him in the derech of emesto find this shidduch. Those who are נאמני ארץ merit also to sit together with Hashem.

Chazal tell us that because Eliezer negated his self interests during his mission he merited to leave the curse of Canaanan which he received from Noach and was transformed into a ברוך just like Avraham (24,31). Yet even when he transformed into his new identity of ברוך which now made him worthy of a shidduch with Avraham's son, he nevertheless did everything possible to ensure that the shidduch outcome with Rivka would still be successful. ויאמר עבד אברהם אנכי. Eliezer acted in a low profile all the time and still played role of Avraham's servant. He repeats the story in detail with its impact of Hashem's intervention in order that Rivka's parents should consent to the shidduch immediately (Chizkuni). Eliezer relates the miracle of his shortened journey in order that this would motivate them even more to finalize and agree on the shidduch. When necessary, he changes the order of events so that the family members would not think of him as an impetuous messenger and refuse the shidduch (24,47 Rashi). Eliezer's story concerning Hashem's intervention with the details of the shiduch was so convincing that at the end the family unanimously proclaimed מה' יצא הדבר . Even when the family members wanted Rivka to remain for ten months before she leaves home, Eliezer protested and firmly said she must leave now with me. We see throughout the entire repetition of the story, the conscious effort of Eliezer was to convince them to allow Rivkie to marry Yitzchak. Even after he fulfilled his mission of finding a relative for the shidduch and giving her kiddushin, all which merited him a change from being cursed to being blessed, he nevertheless did everything possible to fight against his self interest and make sure the shidduch would not be foiled in any possible way.

We can now understand why the repeat of the encounter of Eliezer with Rivkia is so cherished by Hashem. Eliezer served his mission with two roles, one as a cursed slave of Avraham and the second a servant of Avraham who was ברוך. Yet even after the shidduch was actualized after Eliezer met Rivka at the well, and now Eliezer's self interest of his daughter became a real possibility, he nevertheless subjugated himself in every possible way to maneuver the shidduch to success avoiding all pitfalls and obstacles. This is why the Chazaluse the plural form of עבדי אבות the servants of the fathers. It is from the both roles of servants with the curse and without that Eliezer demonstrated how he embodied the nature and virtue of the earth and his dedication and simcha to fulfill the mission given to him by Hashem to be a sheliach in the creation of Am Yisrael.

This is why Rashi connects the two comments together that of the miracle of shortening his journey and the cherishment of the plain talk of the servants of the Avos. The common thread of both is that Eliezer attained the level of נאמני ארץ faithful to the earth and this is the reason that the earth shortened his journey and why through his plain speech one could see clearly that he accepted his role as the messenger of Avraham with pure dedication fully void of self interests. This awesomeness warrants cherishment and embracement from Hashem.

We can now understand why Rashi waited a few pessukim to let us know that the repeat of the encounter was because Hashem cherished his words. Because this part of the story we did not know up until now, the part of קפיצת הדרך. This part reveals that he internalized the nature of the aretz to the point that the aretz responded with its own nature of רץ. This miracle demonstration enabled Eliezer to overcome his conflict of interests even after the kiddushin was already made for there still was left the convincing of Rivka's parents to sway them to agree to the shidduch. For with the negation of the ארור, once again the self interest would kick in and could easily manipulate Eliezer's presentation of the shidduch that would cause them to lean towards refusing to make it work. This was Eliezer's self reminder and verbal proclamation that if the miracle happened to him then it also means that he must continue cleaving to the nature of the aretz of accepting one's role in his mission and investing all possible efforts to make it succeed for Avraham and not for himself.

In the sefer Shevilei Pinchas he writes that this is why Korach and his entourage were punished with the earth swallowing them up. They too did not accept the role which Hashem gave them as Leviim. They were jealous of Moshe, Ahron, and Elitzafon. They were punished with the earth opening its mouth and swallowing them up. The reason being that they did not listen to the earth's message to mankind to fulfill your G-d given role and mission no matter whether it finds grace in your eyes or not. אשרינו מה טוב חלקנו ומה יפה ירושתינו ומה נעים גורלינו . One must place his ear to the earth in order for it to deliver its message to man. This concept is hinted in the English word for eretz – earth. The way it is pronounced it should have been spelled erth. Yet it is spelled with the first three letters being ear. Earthliness can swallow up a person by making him fail to pay attention to his purpose and meaning in life. The organ of the heart pumps life within man. EARTH also spells HEART. Only when we hear the פי הארץ the message of the earth and enter it into our heart, only then can we emulate the nature of the servitude of the ארץ and incorporate that virtue into our lives. It is then that we can truly feel alive by experiencing the pulse and heartbeat of the אבן שתיה in the Beis Hamikdash the source of earth itself.



- Rabbi Shmuel Brazil

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