In this week’s parasha Eliezer is sent to find a wife for Yitzchak. The Torah’s narrative of the episode is uniquely detailed and seemingly repetitive. The Torah relates how Eliezer requested heavenly guidance, asking Hashem for a specific sign in order to identify a suitable bride. The Torah then repeats the details of the specified events as they happen. Amazingly the repetition is then doubled when Eliezer relates the events to Rivkah’s family – a total of four times!
It is clear that each extra reference and description carries an extra layer of meaning, and so we’d like to examine one fascinating detail. We find the Torah switches between describing Eliezer as an Eved, a slave, and an Ish, a man. He was the servant of Avraham and so we’d expect him to be described as one. However we find he is also referred to as an Ish, a man. What is the hidden detail alluded to here?
Rabbenu Bachyeh explains that Avraham Avinu had asked Hashem to send His Malach before him. He asked for an angel to lead both Eliezer and Rivkah to the right location at precisely the right time and to inspire Rivkah to carry out the acts of kindness Eliezer had specified. He explains that Ish – man, is used to describe someone of great stature and on occasions angels are called Ish too. The angel who directed Yosef to his brothers is called an Ish (‘Vayimsaehu Ish’), for example. The Torah alludes to this divine assistance by adding ‘Vehinei Rivkah yoset’ – and behold Rivkah was coming out. Hinei – Behold indicates preparation, that Rivkah had been led out by the angel. Therefore from that moment, when Eliezer senses this divinely assistance, he is called Ish (Veha’ish mishtaeh lada’at – the man stopped to ponder and analyse), a man with heavenly assistance. This description persists until Rivkah, Lavan and her family agree to the marriage. As soon as the deal is done he loses this status and is described as an Eved – a slave.
A fascinating nuance in Rabbenu Bachyeh’s explanation is that the elevated status ascribed to Eliezer only begins once he’s aware of the angel’s guidance. Even though Hashem had been putting things in place well before his arrival in Charan, he only became a ‘man’ when he fully appreciated the guiding hand of Hashem. This clarity and awareness elevated him and filled him with holiness. We can learn from here to seek and find the hand of Hashem in our daily lives. When we get that flash of inspiration, when things fall into place and run smoothly Hashem is giving us that extra help. However, to be truly elevated by this we must feel inspired and appreciate His guiding hand, by opening our eyes to His constant assistance. When we are fully aware of Him we are then elevated to a higher status, bringing more Kedushah into our everyday lives and bringing hatzlachah in everything we do!