Questions about the Tzaddik

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Questions about the Tzaddik

What follows is a compilation of the questions that Eliezer had about Avraham Avinu, taken from a few of Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s shiurim, as collected by the Shivivei Or Newsletter, #120.

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Eliezer had an infinite number of questions about Avraham.

Every second he had a new question. And he so he said, ”Lead me in the path of truth (Berieshit 24:48).” Eliezer said this when was sent to Charan by Avraham to find a suitable marriage suggestion for Yitzhak. Why did he have to pray to be led on the path of truth?

Because he was sure that he wasn’t on true path due, because of all the “infinite questions” that he had about Avraham.

Eliezer had questions and doubts about the following:

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Question 1:

How can I travel though Syria and Lebanon to reach Charanm after I killed two billion, six hundred million minus one person in the war with Amrafel?[1] Eliezer was the Number One Most Wanted Person, as explained in the Talmud, Tractate Nedarim 32a that Eliezer was the only other person who fought together with Avraham, against the 4 Kings.

Question 2:

When they first did the bris milah in Chevron, the Canaanites wanted to kill them[2].  Avraham had to bring a special security detail because the Canaanites said; “You came here to slaughter people.” If I’m going to Charan now, I’m going to need to take all of the special security with me. So who is going to protect Avraham, in the meantime?

Question 3:

How can you want Saddam Hussein’s daughter, for your daughter-in-law?! Avraham told Eliezer to find the daughter of Betuel who was an incredibly wicked person, akin to Saddam Hussein.

Question 4:

How will I find a virgin (suitable) girl in a place where there are no virgin girls? Like it is written “And no man ‘knew’ her Rivkah (Bereishis 24:16).” That she was the only virgin girl there.

Question 5

[Eliezer worried that] When I get there, they’re going to poison me. They’re going to put poison in my food. And in the end, this happened! They did try to poison the food, but the angels switched Eliezer’s plate with Betuel’s, so he died instead.[3]

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Question 6:

They won’t agree for Rivka to come with me. Why should they agree that I will take a three year old girl? They are going to say, Let Yitzhak come to us! Over there, there was also the synagogue of Arpachshod, of Shelach so what’s wrong with bringing Yitzhak here?!

Question 7:

Betuel and Lavan said to Eliezer: if your only issue is that Avraham doesn’t want a daughter-in-law from the daughters of Canaan, don’t you also have the daughters of Yishmael, or the daughters of Lot to choose from?! Why did you come all of the way to Charan? It seems as though Yitzhak must have some blemish! Yishmael already has grandchildren who can marry Yitzhak!

Question 8:

The Ari writes that Eliezer saw Eisav the rasha (evildoer) would descend from Rivkah. It is written, ”And a jug on her shoulder- ו (כדה על שכמה Bereishit 24:15).” The first letters of each word make up “Eisav”.

So he said; why I am going to give Yitzhak an ‘Eisav’ to deal with?!. After this it is written, ”And he was quiet (Bereishit 24:21).” On the simple level, the verse is teaching us that Eliezer was waiting to see if Rivkah truly would be a fitting match for Yitzhak. But the deeper meaning is that he ‘silenced’ all of the questions that he had.

He accepted the fact that there are questions that he does not have an answer to.

The Rebbe teaches in Likutey Moharan 2:46 that when there’s a question, don’t pursue it, don’t give it credence. Instead, nullify the question. It’s for sure a mistake. If Avraham sent you to Charan, Avraham also foresaw this.

What, Avraham couldn’t see that Eisav is going to be born from her?! Even before you were born, (Eliezer), he knew all of the questions! So this is just a law of creation, this is how it must be.

There must be questions about the great tzaddikim (righteous people).

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It’s written in the Imrei Noam that “He was quiet ” has the numerical value of 558. This is the same numerical value as: “Yaakov (and) Eisav” – that Eliezer saw Yaakov and Eisav. And then he understood that Eisav is only a klipah, a covering for Yaakov. Through being quiet, Eliezer merited to see the answer to his question. That although Eisav will come from Rivkah, Yaakov will also come from her.

This is alluded to in the way that ‘he was quiet’ has the same numerical value of ‘Yaakov Eisav’. In the merit of being quiet, Eliezer understood that Eisav is just a covering. Every person must come to the world with a covering – with someone to fight against him, which is really just the klipah, the covering that protects him.

There are accusations against every single person from here to shamayim (the heavens). The Yerushalmi in Tractate Yuma 6 states that a person’s sins create a scarlet thread. And in Tractate Shabbos 9, it explains that the sins of a person stretch up to shamayim, and from one end of the world until the other.

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When a person sincerely repents, on the spot it the thread turns white.

There were even accusations against Yaakov Avinu. And Og, the king of Bashan, was the ‘prosecutor’ who shielded the nation of Israel.

Og was alive from since (before) the Great Flood until the Jewish people entered Israel. He protected us during all of this time by fighting against us. From the time of the Flood until Avraham was 100 years old, is exactly 340 years, plus another 42 years until the “Bris Bein Habesarim– the covenant between the parts”.

Until the Jews left Egypt, this is another 400 years and another 40 years until they entered the land, this is 822 years. Og shielded them. Og was a shield for Avraham, and he shielded Yitzchak.

It is written in the Midrash that Avimelech, the King of the Philistines and Shem the son of Noah came to Yitzchak’s Bris. They told Og look! What’s going on here?! You said that Avraham is a sterile mule who cannot give birth. Avraham had denied all of the idol-worshipping faiths, he had disgraced all of them.

At the time that Avraham disgraced all of the idols [and they wanted to kill him] Og said no, wait a little longer, he will die at the age of 70, 80, 90 and nothing will be left of him. They told him,

“You said that he was going to die, and look! Now he has another child, Yitzchak!”

Og said, “Leave me alone, I am just going to put my hand over Yitzchak’s nose (see Bereishis Rabbah 53:1). Then he said, this baby Yitzchak, with my finger, I am going to kill him. A Heavenly voice was proclaiming that in a little longer, you are going to see 600,000 people, (i.e. the nation of Israel) in the desert and you’re going to fall in to their hands!

As it says, “And G-d told Moshe, don’t fear him – Og – because I have placed him into your hand (Bamidbar 21:34). So Og, the King of Bashan was all the time thinking about how he could finish off Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. It was the same Og. The Og during the time of Moshe was the same person who existed at the time of Avraham. And his tooth fell out, and Avraham used it as a chair. Once Avraham quarreled with him, and his tooth fell out, and this became Avraham’s chair.

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Question 9:

Rashi says that Eliezer saw the breaking of the Tablets. Therefore, he gave Rivkah two bracelets that alluded to the Tablets. He saw the sin of the Golden Calf, he saw them breaking the Tablets, and that there would be a second set of tablets.

Question 10:

[Eliezer thought] Let Yitzhak marry my daughter! Eliezer had a big question about why Yitzchak couldn’t marry his daughter, because Eliezer was sure that she was more righteous than anyone he’d find in Charan.

Question 11:

(And the last question) is brought down from the Chiddushei Harim, and it was the hardest question of all. Betuel and Lavan said to Eliezer, ”Come the blessed of G-d (Bereishis 24:31).” At that moment, Eliezer became ”the blessed of G-d”. So there, he already became blessed.

Eliezer had finally understood that his daughter couldn’t marry Yitzchak because he was a descendant of Cham. Cham was cursed by Noah, and it’s unfitting that a cursed person should marry a blessed person. But then, Eliezer hears that he’s no longer cursed, he is now blessed! So now, he can marry his daughter off to Yitzchak! But Eliezer did not know that while he was no longer cursed, his daughter was still cursed.

Question 12:

[Eliezer had doubts about Avraham’s true character.] “And my soul will survive in your merit (Bereishis 12:13).” Avraham, upon his arrival to Egypt told Sarah to act like she was his sister. He knew that the Egyptians would kill him if they knew that he was her husband, in order to claim Sarah for Pharoah.

The Zohar asks in the Torah portion of Tazria; what kind of a person says something like this?! That they should just take you instead, and give me a lot of money. What kind of a person would say something like this?! Even a Cushite wouldn’t say that!

Question 13:

[Eliezer wanted to know] If Avraham was able to marry Hagar, who was the great-granddaughter of Nimrod, and the daughter of Pharoh, so why can’t Yitzchak marry my daughter?

Question 14:

Why did Avraham call me a donkey?! The verse says, “And Avraham told his young men (Eliezer and Yishmael), sit here with the donkey (Bereishis 22:5).” The Talmud teaches that the word “with” can also mean ”nation”. Therefore, “With the donkey” can be understood as ”the nation of the donkey,” i.e. that you are similar to a donkey.

This is because Eliezer was a descendant of Cham, who was cursed to be a slave. Immediately, Eliezer started to dance. He accepted the insult with such love that he burst out into dancing. And in the merit that he started dancing, he then flipped from being a ‘snake’ to being a person. And therefore he entered with his body into the Garden of Eden.

Question 15:

[Eliezer wanted to know] Why are you only taking 318 men to save Lot from the four kings when you also need to protect yourself? Avraham fought that war aged 95. Tosfos says that he was 93 years old.

Question 16:

When I get to Charan, they are going to greet me with a knife. Because once, it was forbidden to speak with a girl. What are you speaking to a girl next to the spring for?! You want to ask her something, so ask her father! There are no exceptions to the rule.

Eliezer was worrying, there’s the police, there’s the Interpol, they’re going to report that Eliezer was speaking to a foreign girl. Lavan will then try to kill him. The moment that I will come with ten camels, he will immediately kill me! He’s immediately going to pull a knife on me! Then he flew in air, like it’s written “And Behold he (Eliezer) is standing on the camels on the well (Bereishis 24:30).” This teaches us that Eliezer was above the camels, because he flew in air.

The Pirkei D’Rebi Eliezer (16) says that Eliezer’s path from Chevron until Charan was shortened to just three hours, but the Yalkut Shimoni brings down that within an hour, Eliezer reached there.

Question 17:

[Eliezer wanted to know] How can Avraham be telling me to go to “my land“? G-d commanded Avraham to leave his land, like it’s written, “Leave your land.” And now he’s telling me to go there?!

Question 18:

And, how is Avraham telling me to go to the land of my birth? It says “Leave your land and the place of your birth.”

Question 19:

Aner and Eshkol also belonged to the covenant of Avraham [and weren’t from the cursed descendants of Cham]. If you don’t want to take a woman from them, then where do you want to take a woman from?

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There are always questions and doubts about the true tzaddikim, that is just how Hashem has arranged matters.

And whatever the question, the answer remains the same: to work on strengthening our emunat tzaddikim, and to spend many long hours in hitbodedut (personal prayer) to ‘quiet down’ our questions, and enable Hashem to open our eyes to understand at least some of the answers.

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] See Sanhedrin 95b.

[2] All of this is written in the Midrash Rabbah (Vayera 48a).

[3] As brought in the Yalkut Shimoni.

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