Parshas Chayei Sara

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

ויהיו חיי שרה וכו’ (פרק כג פסוק א)

The Parsha begins with the death of Sarah and Avraham’s subsequent search for a proper gravesite for
his late wife. Rabbeinu Yonah deems this to be the tenth and final test in which Hashem tested
Avraham. He explains that although Avraham was promised Eretz Yisroel for him and his children, when
he had to find one plot to bury Sarah it cost him a small fortune and a lot of bother. This tested Avraham
if he would question Hashem and demand an explanation, but he passed it with perfect faith in the One
Above. R’ Elya Svei asked that Rabbeinu Yonah also says that the Akeidah, offering Yitzchak as a
sacrifice, was the most challenging test of Avraham. If so, why did Hashem continue to test him with an
even smaller test after he had already passed an even greater one? R’ Elya answered that after Avraham
passed the incredible test of the Akeidah, he could have easily felt proud of himself and assured that he
was an established Tzaddik. It would have been very understandable for Avraham to lower his guard,
after all, he had been willing to sacrifice his son- that should have proved his loyalty forever! Therefore,
Hashem tested him again, to show that a person must always be careful with their actions and make
sure that they are always faithful to Hashem. Avraham of course succeeded as he continued to live his
life in careful service of Hashem, never letting his guard down.

אלי לא תלך האשה אחרי (פרק כד פסוק לט)

Avraham sends his servant, Eliezer, to find a wife for Yitzchak. Eliezer asks Avraham, “perhaps the girl
will not want to come back with me, what should I do then”? The Medrash tells us that there was really
a deeper intent in Eliezer’s question. The word אולי (perhaps) is written without a “ו” which lends it to be
read as אלי (to me). Chazal explain that Eliezer had an eligible daughter and he was subtly hinting to his
master that perhaps she could have the honor of marrying Yitzchak. Avraham understood and
responded that my son is blessed (by Hashem) and you are cursed (he was descended from Canaan who
was cursed by Noach) so we are therefore incompatible. At the end, Lavan called to Eliezer ‘בוא ברוך ה;
from which Chazal learn that Eliezer switched from being cursed to being blessed. How did the switch
occur? The רוח אליהו suggests that even when Eliezer was informed that he is not befitting to join
Avraham’s family, he accepted his mission with total subservience and faithfulness to his master. This
was an incredible show of humility- recognizing the truth and totally lowering himself to his position.
The מדה of humility is so powerful that it can switch a man who is essentially cursed and recreate him to
be blessed. In our lives as well, when we wish to affect change in our connection to Hashem, a
fundamental step is to humble ourselves and recognize our roles.

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