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Vol. 20 No. 5
Shifra Shoshana bas Avraham a"h
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)
"And Avraham was old, coming on in days, and Hashem blessed Avraham with everything (ba'kol)" (24:1).
Throughout his (recorded) life, the Oznayim la'Torah points out, Avraham did not know total peace; G-d's blessings were limited, as he was faced with one test after the other. These tests were so tough that anybody else would have been bound to fail them, so we can assume that, although Avraham passed each one, they must have shaken him to the core.
Now that he had passed his final test, and was free from the shackles of the Yeitzer ha'Ra (as the Gemara teaches us in Bava Basra), for the first time, G-d's blessing fell on him without reservation. And this is hinted in the word "ba'Kol". And the author supports this with a Tosefta in Kidushin, which explains that 'G-d blessed Avraham in his old age more than in his youth'.
Chazal however, in Bava Basra (16) argue over this Pasuk. In answer to the Gemara's question 'What does "ba'Kol" mean, Rebbi Meir explains that Avraham did not have a daughter, whereas according to Rebbi Yehudah, he had a daughter whose name was 'Bakol'. This reflects no doubt, on the fact that with her birth, Avraham now had everything that a man could desire, not least of all, the fact that G-d had blessed him, not only with a son, but with a daughter too. At this late stage in life, he at long last merited to fulfill the Mitzvah of "P'ru u'Revu!".
Rebbi Yehudah is easily understandable, comments the Oznayim la’Torah. But what sense does it make to say that it was a blessing for Avraham not to have a daughter? Since when is that considered a blessing?
And he explains that there was simply nobody to whom to marry her off! Granted, Avraham Avinu had brought many people under the wings of the Shechinah. But inexplicably, not one of his Talmidim remained faithful to his teachings. One after the other, they opted to return to the more attractive life-style led by their contemporaries. So what sort of life would Avraham's daughter have had to look forward to? As Chazal have said, it is the man who searches for his wife, like somebody goes to look for his lost article, and not vice-versa. That being the case, Avraham knew that his daughter faced the bleak prospect of ending up as some idolater or other's wife, a son-in-law not of his own choosing. Perhaps, he adds, that is also why Yitzchak had no daughters, and why Ya'akov had only one (and see how much trouble she - albeit unwittingly - caused him).
Rabeinu Bachye too, explains that a woman is under the jurisdiction of her husband. And he explains that, had Avraham had a daughter, he would have been faced with two options; either to marry her off to somebody from the accursed Cana'an, or to marry her off to someone from his own family, who sadly, were all idolaters.
The Ramban says the same, but he adds that, in addition, Avraham would not have wanted his daughter to leave Eretz Yisrael. Indeed, one of his conditions for Yitzchak marrying Rivkah, was that she should come to live in Eretz Yisrael with Yitzchak, and not vice-versa, something that he could not have enforced had his daughter gone to marry someone in Charan. And the Ramban, on many occasions, stresses that someone who lives outside Eretz Yisrael, is considered as if he had no G-d!
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A Wife from Charan
" … only to my land and to my birthplace shall you go, and you shall take a wife for my son" (24:4).
From Avraham's words, says the Meshach Chochmah, it seems that he was only concerned that the woman should be from Charan, but not necessarily from his family. And that will explain why Eliezer prayed for the girl to be particularly kindhearted, without a word about her family. In that case, he was not guilty of nichush (divination), in assuming that she was from the right family without knowing that she was, as the commentaries suggest.
And the reason that Eliezer told Lavan and Besuel that Avraham had made his family a condition was because, now that it transpired that the Divine Will had picked a girl who was indeed from Avraham's family, making it a precondition would impress them and encourage them to give their consent.
In any case, the Meshech Chochmah explains, now that we have two scenarios, one what Avraham actually instructed Eliezer, the other, what Eliezer told Rivkah's family that Avraham had instructed him, we can understand why he also changed the order of events that took place at the well. Since he had not actually been told to look for a member of Avraham's family, there was nothing strange about placing the ornaments on Rivkah before asking her to which family she belonged. He was convinced that no parents would refuse such a wonderful (and wealthy) Shiduch, and the girl's family was not crucial.
However, when it turned out that Rivkah was indeed from Avraham's family, and having decided to exploit that fact when negotiating with her parents, he was forced to switch the order of events, and to tell them that he first asked Rivkah about her family and only then, did he put the ornaments on her.
"Hashem, the G-d of the Heaven who took me out of My father's house …" (24:7).
Avraham deliberately declined adding 'and the G-d of the earth', Rashi explains, because at the time to which he was alluding, His kingdom was not yet known to the residents who dwelt there. That would only occur when Avraham would subsequently teach them about Him.
Quoting a Sifri, the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos explains that the first B'rachah of the Amidah does not contain Malchus (as a proper B'rachah requires) - for the very same reason; because when Hashem first became the G-d of Avraham, He was not yet acknowledged as the G-d of the world.
Ten Camels - Ten Men
"And the slave took ten camels …" (24:10.
Ten camels require ten men to handle them, the Chizkuni explains, and Eliezer needed a Minyan for the betrothal and the Chupah that he intended to perform. Presumably, he did not count, since he was the Shali'ach of the Chasan (Yitzchak).
What Happened to Besuel?
"And her brother (Lavan) and mother answered …" (24:55).
Rashi explains that her father Besu'el's name is omitted here, because he attempted to intervene, and an angel came and killed him.
Strange, comments the Da'as Zekeinim, considering that only a few Pesukim earlier, he had clearly accepted what he specifically perceived as a Divine decree?
No problem, he explains, he simply changed his mind and tried to retract.
Alternatively, he served Eliezer a plate that contained poison, and the angel simply switched his plate with that of Eliezer (if Besu'el can switch opinions, why shouldn't the angel switch plates?).
The question remains however, why Besu'el wanted to poison Eliezer.
That's no problem either, the Da'as Zekeinim explains. He had his eye on all the money that Eliezer brought with him.
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