Tuesday, November 14, 2006

chasing the wealthy

Parshat Hayyei Sarah

Eliezer, servant of Avraham, goes to Aram Naharayim to seek out a wife for Yitzhak from the family of Nahor. After the whole story of meeting up with Rivka and her offering water to him and his camels, Eliezer requests a place to sleep the night. Rivka offers lodging and then goes home to tell her family of the guest.

The passuk in 24:29 says, "וירץ לבן אל האיש" - Lavan ran to the man...

Rashi explains why Lavan ran. He explains, "Why did he [Lavan] run and for what did he run? "When he had seen the nose ring," he said, "This one is rich" and made plans to get at his money. "

The Seforno as well discusses this running of Lavan and explains that he wanted to see the wealthy man who came to town (the Seforno does not ascribe nefarious plans to Lavan as Rashi did, so it could have been for the purpose of finding a way to get his money or he possibly just wanted to see a wealthy person).

The Torah is clearly describing this act of Lavan, as it continues to portray Lavan, in a negative fashion, as an act of an evil person plotting and scheming.

Yet this is something we all do and commonly find in practice among the best of us. When someone wealthy comes to town we are all curious. We go out to see him and hope for the opportunity to shake his hand, let alone if one would have the opportunity to exchange a few words with him.

Warren Buffet just recently came to Israel and his every move was watched by all. Celebrities with their paparazzi and who knows how many more examples.

I think most of the time it is out of curiosity with a bit of hope that his luck/fortune will rub off a bit on me. But sometimes there is also a bit of nefariousness involved. We are jealous, possibly, as well.

Regardless of the intentions, we see from Lavan and how he is written up here in the Torah, that it is not a good thing to chase after the wealthy, whether simply to watch them or worse.

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