Monday, November 12, 2012

Follow Up... the last post:

My father, he should live and be well, offered the following insight gleaned from the teachings of Rav Schwab and Rav Pam: the Torah is teaching us the ideal role of the shadchan in terms of how he (or she) should perceive himself and his role in the process of making the match. From the fact that Eliezer's name is not mentioned in the Parsha at all, we learn that vis-a-vis the prospective match, there can be no personal interest on the matchmaker's part at all. There must be an abnegation of sorts, with the matchmaker dedicated to the singular task of bringing this couple together without any ulterior motives (no matter how admirable). It is straight advocacy for the others, free of any self serving motive.

As to why he's alternately referred to as Eved and Ish, I still don't have any answer. My initial hypothesis that the distinction is when Eliezer exercises his autonomy (i.e. when he's carrying out the mission of Avraham, he is in his capacity of servant, and when he must make his own calls in the field, he becomes a Man) such as conversing with Lavan and Besuel fell through; first of all, the verses do not reflect that, and the  commentators make a point of asserting that especially when Eliezer used his own initiative it was in his role as a loyal servant.

After going through it again Shabbos morning, I realized that the Torah specifically calls Eliezer a "man" during his interactions with Rivka - even after Rivka announces his arrival (again calling him a "man") to her family, once he reveals his identity, the Torah reverts to his title of servant.

Perhaps we can suggest an answer that works on two levels: according to the simple meaning, maybe Rivka didn't recognize him as a servant, and innocently referred to him as a free individual - the Torah would reflect that assumption until the confusion is cleared when Eliezer introduces himself. On a deeper level, maybe we can say that the Torah is teaching us an additional quality of Rivka: that same chesed that she extended to Eliezer and his entourage in deed was also present in her attitude towards people. Despite the fact that Eliezer was a servant - in many places, likely considered a second-class citizen - she regarded him as a person, as a human being worthy of being treated as such. So long as she interacts with him, and accords him respect and dignity, he is a man. And Eliezer recognizes this, but still maintains that above all else, he is a loyal servant to Avraham.

As far as I know, this is totally my own, and if it's totally off, please let me know. If it is corroborated somewhere, also please let me know...

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