Perfection vs. Torah

Rabbi Israel Chait

Student: Rashi on Gen. 24:42:

Rabbi Acha said, “More pleasant before God is the speech of the servants of the patriarchs, than the Torah (commands) of their children, as we find Eliezer’s account doubled in the Torah, while many of the central commands of the Torah are only given by way of hints.”

Question: What trait—indicated in Eliezer’s speech—surpassed the Torah of Bnei Yisrael, that Torah provided more coverage about Eliezer than Torah’s commands?

Rabbi Chait: Rashi (Ibid. 24:39) says the word is read “ulay” (perhaps), but is spelled “ailay” meaning “to me”—that is, to me (my daughter) should Isaac marry. Eliezer had a daughter and he was seeking to find some reason why Abraham should accept his daughter in marriage to Isaac. Abraham said to him, “My son is blessed and you are subject to a curse. One who is under a curse cannot unite with one who is blessed.” As a servant, Eliezer’s daughter was unfit to wed Isaac. Nonetheless, Eliezer conquered his desire and sought another girl. Thereby he displayed perfection. A servant is usually on a lesser level, but Eliezer’s perfection outshined the patriarchs’ childrens’ Torah. Drawing close to God is sometimes achieved by a servant even more than by a son.

Perfection outweighs Torah. Eliezer invested his full energies to fulfill Abraham’s will. His lengthy plea provided many opportunities to abbreviate his words (an abbreviation would express his desire for his daughter to marry Isaac). But Eliezer did not abbreviate his words. This reveals that he conquered his desire and invested all his energies to fulfill Abraham’s wishes to find some other wife for Isaac. Eliezer’s elongated pleas to Lavan and Besuale displayed a servant fully engaged in following his master’s wishes.