Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chayei Sarah: Eliezer and the Artscroll biography

The Torah repeats the story of Eliezer looking for a wife in great detail. Rashi tells us that from this we learn how beloved the simple, mundane, talk of even the slaves of the forefathers is more beloved to Hashem than even the Torah of the future generations.

Why? Why is the talk of the slaves so beloved to Hashem? What is so special about what Eliezer said that we dedicate so much space to his words, more so than the Torah itself later?

There is obviously something very special about Eliezer's words and conversation. If you look at the whole story, the whole conversation, you will see that Eliezer was imbued with a level of emuna that we rarely find in any person.

Avraham gave Eliezer a job - to find a wife for Yitzchak. He did not tell him how to look or what to do. Just to do it.

Yet the whole method selected by Eleiezer, a simple Canaanite slave, was based on how Hashem would help him find that woman. Nothing was done without basing it on Hashem.

A simple slave. A Canaanite from the people Avraham refused to trust. Yet Eliezer had, and described, this amazing level of emuna.

All too often our torah, the torah of the children, as too academic. I once heard a quote from a rav that a yeshiva bochur nowadays, growing up in our yeshiva system, could learn many pages of gemara, finish many tractates, spend many years learning the torah, yet never once think about Hashem.

But the talk of the slaves of the forefathers, a simple slave, is more beloved.

That is why it repeats the story of Eliezer a second time in full detail. To tell us that we can, we should, learn from Eliezer about emuna. That is what we need before we worry about anything else. The emuna is the basis for the Torah of the Children, and that we get from even a simple slave like Eliezer.

Just looking at Avraham's level of emuna might not teach us this. Avraham was great. Looking to him for a lesson is like reading an ArtScroll biography of a great rabbi. You cannot really relate to it, because the picture painted is just in a different world. Yet a slave with this level of emuna? That is something we can learn from. if a slave can have such emuna, for sure we can aim for it.

this dvar torah was said at my sons bar mitzvah - Parshat Chayei Sarah 5770

1 comment:

Neil Harris said...

I actually had a conversation w/ the prinical at ACHDS today about this generation getting caught up in the acedemics of Halacha and missing the "hargesh" of Yiddishkeit. OK he was doing most of the talking and I was listening.