Gleaned from the Sfas Emes

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Parshas Chayei Soroh

A Lesson From Eliezer

Arriving in Aram Nahara'im, Eliezer prays to succeed in his search...

"And he (Eliezer) said, 'L-rd, the G-d of my master Avrohom - please cause it to transpire for me today, and do kindness to my master Avrohom'." (24:12)

The Midrash (B'reishis Rabba, 60:2) states that Eliezer is Cana'an (B'reishis Rabba, 59:9). He knew his destiny was to be a slave (B'reishis, 9:25). He even prays to "the G-d of my master Avrohom" rather than to "my G-d".

The Midrash on this verse calls Eliezer "eved maskil" (a wise servant) (Mishlei, 17:2), because he did not wait to be captured and enslaved by barbarians. Instead, he chose to become Avrohom's slave.

The Midrash does not mean simply that Eliezer was wise enough to realize there was no escaping his destiny. Rather, it praises his wisdom in seeking the best option - serving Avrohom - and then striving to excel and rejoice in his position. Eliezer's opening words to Rivka's family were, "I am Avrohom's servant." (24:34). His entire pride lay in this vocation.

We can all learn from Eliezer: Instead of trying to escape our predicaments, striving to be someone we aren't, let us make the best of ourselves within our circumstances. (Sfas Emes Chayei Soroh, 5639)

And knowing one's limitations can be just as important as knowing one's potential. At the first knessiah g'dolah, in 1923, the elderly "Gadol Hador", Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski, zt"l, was asked to speak. Oratory was not his forte, so he spoke for only a few minutes. He was followed by the young Rav Meir Shapiro zt"l, a gifted orator, who announced that he would repeat the gist of R' Chaim Ozer's speech, since not everyone had heard it. Rav Meir Shapiro went on to deliver a lengthy masterpiece, making a deep impression on those present - all based on Reb Chaim Ozer's few words. R' Chaim Ozer said afterwards, with a twinkle in his eye, "I never knew what a good speaker I was!"

"Gleaned From the Sfas Emes"- excerpts adapted from a soon to published book, G-d Willing, by Simcha Leib Grossbard.Rabbi Grossbard is author of "The Sfas Emes Haggadah"(Targum Press) and "Kasheleg Yalbinu", a two volume (Hebrew) work based on Sfas Emes.

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