This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Chayei Sarah (5764)
This week we learn in great detail about how the first matchmaker in the Torah; Abraham's faithful servant Eliezer, found a wife (Rivka) for his master's son (Yitzchak).
At first glance this is all very strange. Holy people like Abraham and Yitzchak should have been above such mundane pursuits as finding brides or even getting married. Their needs and children should have been provided miraculously by G-d Almighty. That's the stuff religions are made of!!
The Torah at least should have hidden or at least minimized this story.
But here the Torah goes into pages of detail explaining and repeating Eliezer's matchmaking exploit.
And it doesn't make sense! If such a holy person as Yitzchak needs a wife why does the Torah put so much emphasis on his matchmaker? Why not just tell us about his wedding?
Here is a story I saw in a book, Rabim HaiShive M'Avon by Rabbi Aron Dov Halperin that will help us to understand.
Rabbi Pinchas Teitz was one of the few Jews that were allowed to enter and travel in Russia with no problems from the government. In the 'seventies' and 'eighties' he made tens of such trips meeting and speaking to people. And almost each time the Lubavitcher Rebbe somehow knew about it before he left and sent him a parcel containing books, Tefillin and other Jewish objects with orders on how to distribute them. Most often he was told to just leave them in a certain place to be clandestinely picked up by Chabad Chassidim.
Most of what happened to Rab Teitz there was forbidden to publicize. But one story he had to tell, one that showed him a totally unique facet of the Rebbe.
One time just as he was preparing for another secret trip there was a knock on his door and a Chassid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe appeared with the usual package.
He never ceased to be amazed of how the Rebbe knew exactly when he was going but this time there was a new message.
"The Rebbe wants you to carry this book with you at all times in Russia." The Chassid said as he handed him a small book with a Hebrew title. "It's a pocket-sized edition of 'The Tanya' (the basic book of Chabad philosophy) ".
His gut reaction was to refuse. First of all he was not a Chassid. Second, he wasn't in the mood for taking mysterious orders and who knows what trouble this book could bring him. The package he was able to hide in his suitcase, and he didn't have to carry it around, but to carry a Chabad book with him at all times would identify him as part of a foreign movement? It could jeopardize all the other good things that he had to accomplish! He had heard about how the previous Rebbe of Chabad sat in prison for defying the Communists and he didn't want to do the same.
But on the other hand he was sure the Lubavitcher Rebbe would not put him in danger. And the packages he gave up to now always miraculously passed Russian customs with no problems. Not only that, how he knew about each trip and worried for Russian Jews was very impressive!!
So Rabbi Teitz put the Tanya in his pocket and decided not to think about it.
The next day stepped off the plane in Russia. That evening he left the package in the usual drop off place but as he was walking away something happened.
He had just turned to walk down a dark deserted street when two men walking briskly toward him suddenly grabbed him, covered his mouth so he couldn't make a sound, pushed him into a nearby car and drove off.
The Rabbi was petrified! Could it be a kidnapping? Perhaps it was the fearsome KGB secret police? Could this be the end? Would they murder him!?
Suddenly one of his captors turned to him and said in Hebrew.
"We are sorry. Please excuse us; we are Jews, Chabad Chassidim. We are the ones that receive and distribute the packages you bring. There was no other way to do it than this, otherwise we would be noticed. We must speak with you desperately! "
They drove around for a while till they were sure they weren't being followed, then finally stopped before an apartment house, got out of the car and entered. Once in the apartment they locked the door, sat down at a table and one of them began talking.
"First of all, are you all right? We're so sorry we had to grab you but we have no other choice. We have urgent questions to ask the Lubavitcher Rebbe and you are the only one that can help. You see, we are afraid to telephone or send a fax and we couldn't talk to you in public or even hand you a note. Don't write anything down! Just remember our names and call the Rebbe's office when you get to Israel"
He gave the Rabbi their names and began his story.
"My problem is like this. I live in Moscow and I do a lot of what the government calls, 'illegal' things here like teaching Torah to children.
In fact I have many teachers here that help me, we teach hundreds of children every day, but everything is in secret. Or so I thought till yesterday.
"Yesterday someone told me that the KGB is after me. I know it's only a matter of time. The only solution is to move to another city and hope they will forget about me. But if I leave Moscow all my work will fall apart. I want you to ask the Rebbe if I should run away to another city or not."
"And my friend has a similar problem. He wants to apply to the Russian government for a visa to go to Israel, but as soon as he does he will lose his job as the head of an important physics project."
The other Chassid continued.
"If they refuse to issue the visa, which is very probable, I will be stuck here with no source of income and no future. I want to know if I should take the chance."
The other Chassid resumed, "Here, we have told you everything. Will you do this for us? Please, we are very desperate; it is a matter of days maybe less."
Suddenly Rabbi Teitz remembered the Tanya in his pocket and took it out saying. "Look, here is something your Rebbe gave me to carry around in Russia."
They stared open-mouthed in wide-eyed amazement at the book. It was as though they were suddenly shown the door to another world.
"Oy! A Tanya! The Rebbe actually touched that Tanya? He actually gave it to you? Can we hold it? Please, just for a few seconds! I promise we will return it."
The Rabbi held out the Tanya and they both took hold, pressing it to their cheeks and weeping.
Now it was Rabbi Teitz's turn to be wide eyed and open mouthed; watching two intelligent, grown men weeping over a book just because it was touched by another person! He had never seen anything even vaguely like it in his life!!
Suddenly he realized that he had absolutely no idea who the Rebbe is.
"Look!! LOOK!" one of them exclaimed (the one that worried about the KGB in Moscow). "One of the pages is folded over!" He opened the book to page 162 (Kuv Samech Bais) and the top line on the page screamed out at him:
"One who is desperate and it is impossible for him to wait at all"
The Rebbe had folded that page! It was an answer his desperate question! It is impossible to wait! He must leave Moscow as soon as possible!
"Look!" The other Chassid exclaimed, "There is another one! The Rebbe folded another page!!!"
He opened it. This time it opened page Lamed Ches where the top line read:
"To enter the land (of Israel)" !
Rabbi Teitz was witnessing a miracle before his very eyes! How could the Rebbe possibly know of their questions? How could the he possibly know the Tanya would fall into their hands? How did he know exactly what to answer and that they would understand their answers.
The only explanation he could think of was a saying he once heard: 'A Rebbe is a person who feels the pain of every Jew in the world'.
The Chassidim asked if they could keep the Tanya but Rabbi Teitz reminded them that the Rebbe told him to hold on to it; suddenly it became unique!
When he returned to Israel he immediately called the Rebbe's office and his answer from the Rebbe was soon in coming:
" Thank you for the pleasing news, and CERTAINLY you won't advertise this story or any similar ones at this time"
This answers our questions.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained in great length in one of his discourses (Chayei Sarah, 25th of Cheshvan 5752) that Eliezer was not just an emissary, a messenger or even a servant, Eliezer was actually in the place of Abraham. Abraham gave ALL he had to Eliezer (24:10). Something like what Rabbi Teitz became when he pulled out that Tanya.
Avraham's purpose was to make UNITY i.e. 'marriage'. That is why all the holy Biblical fathers were married; to set the precedent for and give power to the Jewish people to marry (or rather to reveal the true unity of) the Creator with His creation (in fact G-d is the only real existence).
So the deepest interpretation of the 'match' made in our Torah portion is that Abraham symbolizes G-d (He was G-d's first presence in the world) Issac represents the Jewish people (the sons of G-d; Ex. 4:22) Rivka indicates the world (like mother earth) and Eliezer symbolizes the Moshiach who will link them all together.
(See Rashi on Deut 6:4, Moshiach will reveal to the entire world that G-d is 'ONE' i.e. the only true existence.)
So this week's section is really speaking about the ultimate proxy and matchmaker of G-d; Moshiach.
Moshiach will 'arrange' the 'marriage' of G-d, through the Jews, to the world by strengthening Judaism (the Torah will be the wedding ring and the commandments the wedding canopy).
And the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that EVERY Jew has the spark of Moshiach within.
By awakening this spark and using the powers and talents that G-d has given us... each and any Jew can be the one that tips the scale. Like Rabbi Teitz did in our story.
True this matchmaking has been a long and difficult process....MUCH MUCH TOO LONG!!!
But the story of Eliezer gives us all the power and assurance that if we try we will certainly succeed. Just one more good deed, word or even thought can tip the scales and finally bring...
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