Chayei Sarah - Asulin

Parshat Chayei Sarah with Rabbi Asulin

The main story of our parsha, which takes up the majority of the it, is finding Yitzchak a shidduch. This is a relatively well-known episode. We know that Avraham sent his loyal servant, Eliezer, to find a shidduch overseas (many try to emulate this today still). We know how Eliezer tested Rivkah’s middot, and  that she excelled. It is less known however that the Torah does not tell us the name of the servant in this story. This is all the more perplexing – knowing that the Torah had mentioned Eliezer previously.

Why does the Torah not tell us explicitly that Eliezer did it all? I believe Chazal’s interpretation that Eliezer was indeed “the servant” works with the text that conceals his name to teach us a message.

The servant is sent on an essential shlichut – he is on a mission to find a wife to Avraham’s successor, a wife with which Yitzchak will build the chosen nation. Eliezer is the shaliach for this. The meaning of the word “shaliach” is “an agent of the Master who sent him”.

We find this concept in Halacha applicable to Mitzvot – one can appoint a shaliach to perform the mitzvah on one’s behalf. In that case everything the shaliach does is not on his own behalf, but rather his actions are rooted back to the person who sent him. A true shaliach subjugates him or herself to the shlichut and to the one who sent him to do it.

Eliezer epitomises the idea of shlichut – being selfless and mission-orientated. Eliezer was needed for a great task and to action it in the best way possible, he let go of his ego and became defined as “the servant”.

In the era of self-centeredness that we live in, it is very hard to be an “eved HaShem” – “a servant of G-d” – as one would need to be selfless while the mainstream is selfish. Let us take inspiration from Eliezer on what the true meaning of “to be Jewish” is.

Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Yehoshua and Malki Asulin.

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