Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chayei Sarah

In this week's parsha, we read about the story of Eliezer, Avraham's faithful servant, and how he found a wife for Avraham's son, Yitzchak.
Eliezer created a whole system for him to know if the girl he would meet was the Divinely intended wife for Yitzchak. He davened to Hashem that his system would work.
The possuk tells us that before he finished his prayers, "behold! Rivkah approaches".

Question: Why was Eliezer answered right away? This doesn't happen to just anyone!! The Medrash actually says that there were three who were answered immediately: Eliezer, Moshe, and Shlomo.
Question: How could he be included with the great Moshe and Shlomo? There were no other tzadikkim who could compare to Moshe and Shlomo? Only Eliezer is included in this elite group??!

To understand these questions, we must first understand another question.

Question: What does it show if you are answered right away when you daven for something?

To understand this question, we must first understand another question.

Question: Why does Eliezer's story get told three times? First he tells Hashem exactly what should happen. Then we read about it actually taking place. Then, if you still aren't bored with the story, we have to hear it again as Eliezer recounts it to Rivkah's family. Why didn't Hashem just take some of this stuff out when it came to the final draft? (I'm joking, of course. Hashem wrote the Torah, without any drafts first.)

To understand this question, we must first understand another question.

Question: What is so special about the marriage of Yitzchak and Rivkah?

Time to get some answers, don't you think? We'll work backwards.

Answer: The marriage of Yitzchak and Rivkah represented...everything.
The whole reason for the world's existence. It represented the reason why Jews are here, and what we have to accomplish. It wasn't just a representation, either. It was the catalyst. It was the preparation for Matan Torah, which on the one hand changed mankind and the world forever, and on the other hand, was the sole reason for Hashem to create the world in the first place.
As it is explained in many places in Chassidus, the change Torah brought about was that Holiness and Mundane could unite. Before the Torah was given, physicality and spirituality were two different realms entirely, and were exclusive. When Hashem "came down" to Har Sinai, and Moshe ascended, this represented what was happening to the world around them.
The exclusivity of spiritual and physical, of Heaven and Earth, was broken. After the Torah was given to us, the world changed in a way that it could elevate and become one with G-dliness.
Also, it says that the whole existence of the world depended on the Torah being given.
And not only did the world change through Torah, but the Jews did, also. It says that the Torah the Jews and G-d are all one. Through the Torah, we can connect to Hashem in ways which were impossible before

The ability for Matan Torah to do this, must have come from the Avos. After all, "Ma'ase Avos Siman L'Banim". The power for anything we do. comes from our Avos.

The union of Yitzchak and Rivkah was exactly this. It gave the ability for the Highest levels to unite with the Lowest.
Yitzchak was the highest level possible for a person to be. After he was brought on the altar, even though he was not actually sacrificed, our sages tell us that Yitzchak acquired the status of an "Olah Temimah", an offering that is totally for Hashem. For all other types of karbanos, the Kohanim were able to eat different parts of the animal. The olah offering, however, was entirely consumed by the fire. No part was allowed to be eaten, for it was entirely for Hashem. Yitzchak was then too holy to even leave Eretz Yisroel.
Yitzchak also had the high quality of being circumcised at 8 days old, and also of growing up in the righteous house of his parents, Avraham and Sarah.

If Yitzchak represented everything spiritual, and the highest levels, then Rivkah was the exact opposite.
Rivkah is called, "A rose among thorns", and for good reason. She lived outside of Eretz Yisroel, in Padan Aram. Her family was literally: evil. Her father Besual tried to poison Eliezer, and we all know how her brother Lavan treated her future son, Yaakov.

.....Now we can start answering some other questions!
Answer: Now it's very obvious why the story of their shidduch is stressed so much, in the Torah.
Answer: We can also understand why Eliezer was answered immediately, like Moshe and Shlomo HaMelech. It didn't really have to do with who was davening, rather what they were davening for.

The closer you are to a person, the less space there is in between. If you are receiving something from him, then less space also equals less time for the transfer to take place.

The closer you are to G-d, the faster your prayers are answered. Eliezer was not as holy and as G-dly as Moshe and Shlomo, but he didn't have to be in order to be answered immediately. What mattered was the subject matter of his prayers.

What were all three of these Tzadikim praying for? (I know, I know, another question. Just bear with me...)
They were praying for a revelation of G-dliness to unite with with the physical realm:
Moshe was praying for Hashem to create a new creation to destroy Korach's rebellion. Moshe was praying for Hashem to create a sign that everything Moshe did, was because Hashem had told him so. It would prove that Moshe was a Prophet. That he was united with G-d. That G-d unites with Man.
Shlomo was praying for Hashem to reside in the Beis Hamikdash that he had built for Him. After he prayed, G-d sent a Heavenly fire down onto the mizbeich. The Beis Hamikdash was a revelation of G-dliness, uniting with the World. The physical area of the Beis Hamikdash forever changed, and to this day carries its Kedusha.

Elizer was praying for the greatest revelation of G-d's unity in creation: that which was accomplished through Matan Torah, but started with the marriage of Yitzchak and Rivkah.

One last question: Why was Eliezer answered before he actually finished davening? Moshe and Shlomo were indeed answered immediately, but only once they had finished davening!

Answer: The unity caused by Torah is the greatest of the three that Eliezer, Moshe, and Shlomo were davening for. We see this clearly: although a prophet is connected with G-d, it is only for certain amounts of time that he sees the prophecy. The prophet has his own existence outside of the prophecy, etc. The Beis Hamikdash, although its Kedusha remains forever on the Har HaBayis, was destroyed.
Torah, however, is eternal. The Rambam writes how the Torah will never change. Nothing will be added or removed, chas v'shalom.
The connection between man and G-d effected by Torah is also much deeper than without the Torah.

That is why Eliezer was answered even before he finished. The subject matter at hand was so one with G-d, there was no delay whatsoever.

This was all freely adapted from the Rebbe's sicha, printed in Likkutei Sichos, Chelek Chof, on Parshas Chayei Sara, Sicha Gimmel. Printed by Kehos.