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Parshas Chayei Sarah

Humility - The Apex of Bitachon

And the man was astonished at her, reflecting silently on whether Hashem had made his journey successful or not. (Bereishis 24:21)

The following is excerpted from "Trust Me!" citing Shai l'Torah, vol. 1, p. 64.

This statement of the Torah is quite perplexing, notes R. Simchah Zissel Broide, zt"l. Why was Eliezer so anxious at this point over whether or not his mission was successful? He had just experienced an impressive series of miracles. First, he had arrived at his destination in an incredibly short time, through (a miraculous jump through spatial dimensions). Second, he had witnessed a sudden upsurge of the water in the well, as it jumped up to greet Rivkah. Wasn't it obvious that his mission was crowned with success? What additional proof did he require?

In order to answer this question, let us raise another one, regarding an incident that took place earlier in the parashah. We read: "And Avraham said to his servant, the elder of his house 'Put your hand under my thigh and I will minister an oath to you...'" (Bereishis 24:2-3). And further on, Avraham says: "'But if the woman will not wish to follow you, you shall then be absolved of this oath of mine; however, do not return my son to there.'" (ibid. 24:8). Incredible! In this verse, the Patriarch raises the possibility that Eliezer will return home empty-handed! How could Avraham Avinu, the paradigm of faith in the Almighty, have doubts over whether Eliezer's mission would be successful?

In truth, however, this does not illustrate that Avraham lacked faith; rather, it indicates his tremendous humility. Even though his recognition of Divine Providence had reached the apex of human perception, he still stood in utter subjugation to the Almighty's will. Man, no matter how great, is limited in his understanding of Hashem's boundless wisdom and plan.

Therefore, Avraham didn't feel that any supervision of his life in the past by Hashem was an indication of the future. True, Hashem's previous dealings with him seemed an obvious sign of His will, and the Divine plan was totally clear to any intelligent being. However, Avraham's subjugation to Hashem was so complete that he felt it was impossible for him to truly understand the Divine plan for the future.

Thus it was that he remained in doubt: perhaps the woman would not want to come back with Eliezer. Avraham was so totally subordinate to his Creator that he felt he could have no inkling of the Divine plan. Therefore, he could not be sure about the outcome of the search for a shidduch.

Eliezer, Avraham's faithful servant, was his primary disciple. He had absorbed his master's teachings well, learning not only his Torah, but his very manner and behavior as well. Therefore, even though he was confronted by obvious miracles, the calculations he drew from them were only to determine his next step. It was for this reason that he immediately gave Rivkah the jewelry, even before asking her whose daughter she was. He had just witnessed an obvious miracle, and so it was obvious that he had to give her jewelry.

Afterwards, however, he stood there anxiously, waiting to see if "Hashem had made his journey successful or not." In spite of the fact that the whole chain of events pointed unequivocally toward success, his feeling of subservience to his Creator was so strong that he refused to draw conclusions regarding the future. He had no inkling of the Divine plan, and everything was still up to Hashem.

Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos!

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Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rosh Yeshiva
Yeshiva Shaare Chaim.

Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood).

If you would like to correspond with Rabbi Parkoff please contact him:
shaare.chaim@gmail.com or 732-325-1257

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