Rabbi Acha said: More pleasant is the conversation of the servants of the Patriarchs before the Omnipresent than the Torah of the children, because the subject of Eliezer is doubled in the Torah and many basic Torah laws are only given with brief hints. (Rashi)
It’s quite remarkable to observe that Eliezer is granted so much “air time” by the Torah. He is probably the most quoted and visible personality that is not a direct relative or an antagonist of the family of Avraham. Who is this fellow? Strangely he is a descendent of “cursed Canaan” (Breishis 9:25) and for that reason his very own daughter disqualified as a match for Yitzchok. As Avraham told him, “My son is blessed and you are cursed and cursed does not cleave to blessed”. (Rashi- Breishis 24:39) He would probably have been voted “least likely to make it into the Torah”, in his senior class. Yet there he is. How did it happen?
I know a young man, “a driver” who would often speak with a strong sense of nostalgia that he was the personal driver for a well known Jewish philanthropist whose name appears on many buildings of charitable causes throughout Jerusalem and the world. I could tell that he felt accomplished for that period of his life even though he was not the one who was writing the big checks. He was more than glad to have played a positive part in improving the life of so many, even if it was only as a driver.
How thrilling it would be to just hold a test tube in a lab that discovers the cure for some terrible disease. We would all be happy to have even a small role toward that noble end. We can easily appreciate how this fellow felt just getting the car close to the curb, opening the door, and waiting there patiently for the return trip.
Conversely, how tragic to be in the shadow of greatness and to miss out on the opportunity to act with awareness, imagining all the while life is an exercise in failed mediocrity. What a shame to have lost the opportunity of being a conscious part of something big by living so small.
It’s an odd but not insignificant fact that the name of the person whose words and actions take up so much space and use so much ink does not appear once in this week’s portion. Why not? Defined by his own words he says, “A servant of Avraham I am!” He saw himself as a window to let the light of Avraham shine in. Not more! Dutifully he resisted the undercurrent of his own personal agenda and was able to act purely as an extension of his master’s will. He is therefore rightly credited with having assisted not just the great man he served, but the entirety of his noble mission as well. Eliezer, though, is more than the paradigm of the loyal servant.
The Rambam writes, “Anyone who accepts upon themselves the Seven Commandments of the Children of Noah and is scrupulous to do them is considered to be from the righteous of the nations of the world and has for himself a portion in the future world…” (Laws of Kings 8:11)
Although the Torah focuses almost exclusively on Avraham and his children we understand that it is so only because they had accepted the yoke of responsibility for carrying out The Almighty’s grand plan for human history. Anyone, then, who would lend assistance and play a supportive role anywhere along the way is to be honored as part of the ultimate solution and not a part of the problem, as was promised, “Those who bless you will be blessed and those who curse you will be cursed”.(Breishis 12:2)
All the attention aimed at Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, is a lasting testimony and also an invitation. Any decent person who realizes that encouraging the Jewish People and furthering their purpose is tantamount to not less than joining that grand unfolding plan of The Almighty. “A wise man”, the Talmud tells us “recognizes his place”. Eliezer, by knowing his place earned it, and as a result, is forever blessed! Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.