Parshat Chayei Sara
Sarah, Mother of the Jewish People, passes on at age 127. After mourning and eulogizing her, Avraham seeks to bury her in the Cave of Machpela. As this is the burial place of Adam and Chava, Avraham pays its owner, Ephron the Hittite, an exorbitant sum. Avraham sends his faithful servant Eliezer to find a suitable wife for his son Yitzchak, making him swear to choose a wife only from among Avrahams family. Eliezer travels to Aram Naharaim and prays for a sign. Providentially, Rivka appears. Eliezer asks for water. Not only does she give him water, but she draws water for all 10 of his thirsty camels. (Some 140 gallons!) This extreme kindness marks her as the right wife for Yitzchak and a suitable Mother of the Jewish People. Negotiations with Rivka's father and her brother Lavan result in her leaving with Eliezer. Yitzchak brings Rivka into his mother Sarahs tent, marries her and loves her. He is then consoled for the loss of his mother. Avraham remarries Hagar who is renamed Ketura to indicate her improved ways. Six children are born to them. After giving them gifts, Avraham sends them to the East. Avraham passes away at the age of 175 and is buried next to Sarah in the Cave of Machpela.
“And I will have you swear…” (24:3)
In a more modest world, mild-mannered ClarkKentwould discreetly slip into a phone booth, tear off his shirt and reveal his true identity as Superman.
If truth be known, we can all be Superman.
Within us exist tremendous untapped powers. There are well-documented cases of mothers lifting cars to save the lives of their children, or running at superwoman speeds to rescue their offspring from wild animals. Ostensibly, these were ordinary folk, suddenly possessed of superhuman strength. G-d has put inside us enormous powers but most of the time we do not, or cannot, access them. Why?
In this week’s Torah portion, Avraham makes his servant Eliezer swear not to take a wife for Yitzchak from the Canaanites: “Rather, to my land and to my kindred shall you go and take a wife for my son…”
If Avraham doubted Eliezer’s loyalty, why send him in the first place? And if Eliezer’s loyalty was beyond question, what was the need for an oath?
Avraham realized that it might not be easy to find a wife for Yitzchak. He made Eliezer swear so that if the going got tough, Eliezer would reach down into hidden reservoirs of persistence and continue the search.
Nothing substitutes for the will to succeed. Our mindset is very often our greatest enemy. Lack of self-esteem and/or self-confidence limits our ability to take wing and fulfill our potential.
A Jew is supposed to say to himself every day, “When will my actions reach the actions of my fathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov?” When we compare ourselves to these giants we are reminding ourselves of the spiritual legacy locked inside us, which would, if we would only let it, send us looking for the nearest telephone booth to reveal our superman costume to the world.
- Source: Based on the Shem MiShmuel