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The man was astonished at her. He was quietly reflecting whether G-d had made his mission successful or not (24:21)
The middle section of the Parasha deals with Abraham's search for a wife for his son Isaac. The first part of the narrative covers Abraham's original direction to his servant (identified by Rabbis as Eliezer), and the miraculous events leading to his meeting with Rebecca. Throughout this section, he is called 'the servant'.
But once he met her at the well, the Torah starts to refer to him in a different light - as ha-ish - 'the man'. He is not merely the 'servant', but 'the man'. Elsewhere (to Num. 13:3) Rashi explains that the word ish denotes someone being important. In short, having VIP status. And Abraham's servant continues to hold that title of ish throughout the second section, where he details the miraculous events backing his mission to Laban and Bethuel, Rebecca's close relatives.
However, when they gave consent for Rebecca to leave home for a distant land to be Isaac's wife, the servant resumes his humble status: 'Abraham's servant bowed to G-d as he heard their words' [of consent] (24:52). And he continues as 'the servant' when he returns with Rebecca, who in due course becomes Isaac's wife.
These details point to important values in human behavior. A person should walk modestly and humbly with G-d. So when he sees the hand of G-d in his success he should immediately stop and 'tune in' to the Creator, in appropriate gratitude.
But the Torah does not allow humility to stand between a man and his service. When receiving instructions from Abraham, he was eved - a servant. But when representing Abraham, he had to use a different persona - ish - an important person. If he still acts as a mere servant, he lacks authority - however many camels he brings along.
This may be compared to a person doing business with a company. On the first meeting, he is likely to meet the company representative - not the owner, or the manager. The client's decision on whether to do business with the company rests on his reactions towards the 'minor' company representative. If he presents himself as a 'nobody' or a 'shloch', he sends the message that the management and the company is likewise. But if he presents himself as a VIP, he sends the message that the management run a very important and highly successful company.
That 'company' was Abraham & Co, and all that they stood for. The servant's abandoning his humility and taking on the persona of an ish - a VIP - conveyed the notion that the family of Abraham was indeed a worthy destiny for the daughter of so distinguished a household as Bethuel and Laban. And we learn that a person must not let modesty stand in the way of pride and status when the situation calls for it.
For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm
Also by Jacob Solomon:
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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