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What's on Your Business Card?

What's on Your Business Card?


Meet the main protagonist of this week's Torah portion: Eliezer. A majority of the reading discusses his venture to find a wife for Isaac, his boss's son. The Torah describes in relative length the drama of the Torah's first recorded matchmaking effort.

Throughout the narrative, Eliezer encounters miracles in abundance: obstacles disappear from his path, and his prayers are answered instantly. Nevertheless, what is striking is that his ego remains in check; not once in the story does the Torah even mention his name, instead referring to him as "the servant of Abraham."

Later, when he finds The Girl, he sets up an official meeting with her parents in order to ask for her hand in marriage. They ask him to speak.

It is not about him; it never was about him... What are the first words that exit his mouth? Eved Avraham anochi. "I am Abraham's servant." And then he goes on to lavish praise on his boss.

No name, no identity, no "Harvard Grad '86, Yale '89, fed the starving in Albania in '97, joined the March for the Homeless 2000, top executive in a Fortune 500 company, board member at the local JCC, plays golf to support the local Hadassah chapter, and has a wonderful relationship with his three exes..."

He could have boasted about the fact that he was "in" with one of the most powerful and perhaps the most popular man alive. He could have sung his own accomplishments and credentials. He could have just said, "I am Abraham's right hand man, and I even provide the gossip columnists with tons of material about him, of course under anonymity..."

But nothing of that. It is not about him; it never was about him.

The Midrash tells a fascinating tidbit about Eliezer. He had a daughter, whom he deeply wished would marry Isaac. When he broached the subject to his boss, Abraham responded: "I am blessed and you are cursed [Eliezer was a descendant of Canaan, who was cursed by Noah]. And the blessed don't marry the cursed."

Imagine hearing such words from your boss… Chances are you would tender your resignation papers that afternoon, then open a competing business next door…

Not Eliezer. Not only didn't he quit, but he actually went on the mission to find Isaac a wife! Could you believe that? He didn't say, "Oh please, I'll do any other job, but this mission is a bit too sensitive for me…" He went with his whole heart.

It was about fulfilling the wishes of his masterAnd when asked for his identity, he stands up and proclaims, "I am Abraham's servant!"

It never was about him or his business card. It was about fulfilling the wishes of his master.

If only we could take this lesson to heart…

After all, don't we all have a Master?

Rabbi Levi Avtzon lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his wife Chaya and their children. He is associate rabbi and director of outreach at the Linksfield Senderwood Hebrew Congregationl.
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Warren Alberta Canada November 7, 2012

How does one stop being one of the "cursed" I am not a Jew, just read these articles for perspective and personal interest. What does the term "cursed" mean? If Noah cursed my father, his son, all those years ago am I cursed? Eliezer was one of the cursed and Abraham one of the blessed. So there is no hope for Eliezer? Will he and his children always be one of the cursed? Did I do something before I was born to cause the G#d of Abraham to place me in the "cursed" family and you in the "blessed" family? Reply

Rosa Hollander Brooklyn, NY October 29, 2010

Cursed vs. Blessed We have a belief that each person is judged on their own merit - Rebecca wasn't penalized because she came from a deceitful family (and yes I know, she was fit because she can change what she learned as opposed to Cannaites, who have an inborn trait) but why is Eliezer's daughter so vilified? If she was raised by the virtuous Eliezer, she must have been of good stock. So Avraham meanly says the blessed can't marry the cursed? Eliezer is ten generations post-Cham. According to Avraham's world view, anyone who comes from a "bad" family is precluded from having a match from an "impeccable" family. And this si what we have today: families are scrutinized during shidduch times, and often, their reputation is a facade. So please explain how this was seen as correct. Reply

Benny Los Cabos, Mexico, Mexico via October 28, 2010

Another incredible thought Rabbi Levi, your words are such an inspiration to our entire Jewish community here. So beautifully delivered, yet again! Reply

Sarah Masha W Bloomfield, Mi/USA October 27, 2010

Usually we are careful to give our children Jewish names. But it is common to give our sons the name Eliezer. This is not an empty gesture, but rather a real symbol of our esteem. Reply

Mariam Bahawalpur, Pakistan October 27, 2010

Faithful servant ! Great inspiration.Great lesson. Reply

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