1. In today’s Rambam section we find a halachah which has a strong moral lesson and also has something in common with the Shluchim convention:

Oral deception is more heinous than monetary fraud because restoration is possible in the latter while no restoration is possible in the former, and the latter concerns one’s money while the former affects his person. The verse “And you shall fear your G‑d” (Vayikra 25:17) is appended to the commandment against oral deception because it is a matter of the heart. Hence it may be inferred that in all matters of the heart Scripture says: “And you shall fear your G‑d” and whosoever cries out to the L‑rd, because of distress caused by oral deception is answered immediately, as it is said: “...for I am the L‑rd.” (Ibid.) (Laws of Sales 14:18)

The sequence of these principles indicates the gravity of this rule.

The Rambam explains: (1) The Torah juxtaposes “And you shall fear your G‑d” to oral deception, and, (2) anyone who is distressed by oral deception will be answered by G‑d immediately. The Rambam means to teach us that since the Torah considers this a matter of the heart, and warns us to fear the L‑rd, it is no longer merely a sin between man and man, like monetary cheating, but it is also a sin to the Holy One, Blessed be He. And since G‑d is “hurt” by such conduct He immediately answers the human who cries out to Him when he is the victim of verbal deception.

In connection to the Shluchim convention we may note how careful one must be in all areas of contact with people while fulfilling the mission of a Shaliach. Everything must be done pleasantly and peacefully without hurting anyone, even orally. Even when you do see some blatant fault in another you must remember the rule “the sins must cease — the sinners must repent.”

* * *

2. In today’s Torah portion we find the soliloquy of Eliezer in which he relates the purpose of his trip to Charan and how Divine Providence directed him to Rivkah. He says:

And I came this day.... (Bereishis 24:42)

Rashi discusses Eliezer’s remarks and begins by explaining:

Today I started on my journey and today I have arrived here. Hence we may infer that the earth (the road) shrunk for him (i.e. that the journey was shortened in a miraculous manner). (Rashi, loc. cit.)

There is a gnawing question about this miracle, why was it necessary for G‑d to perform the miracle of shrinking the earth for Eliezer? What would be gained by saving the 17 days of the trip?

It is true that Rivkah just then reached her third birthday and could be betrothed and marry — but if the goal of the shortened journey was to make the wedding as soon as possible then why do we not find the same miracle occurring on the way back?! Then again, assuming that on the way back the trip took the normal amount of time, the whole episode would be more logical, for it would fit with the fact that until Rivkah reached the age of 13 she was incapable of bearing children; so there really was no rush to bring her to Yitzchok.

[Note: The following section of this sichah was said at the farbrengen of Shabbos Vayeitzei 5747.]

Another point should be kept in mind. If, in fact, Avraham, himself wanted to make the wedding as soon as Rivkah was permitted to marry then he should have sent Eliezer out earlier, giving him enough time to reach Charan, go through the necessary negotiations, and return with Rivkah to Eretz Yisrael. After all, one must not rely on miracles and expect the road to shrink! Why did he wait till the day she turned three years old and then rely on the miracle of the “shrinking of the road”?

With these points in mind we must say that the reason for the miracle was purely in honor of Eliezer who was the “servant of the Patriarch” and a man who always saw success and blessing in whatever he did. Here, too, for him the road had shrunk. Now, however, we remain with the question, why did he not merit the same miracle on his way back? This is truly a perplexing “klotz-kashe”!

The truth is, that when we approach a klotz-kashe and seek some rationalization we must learn to take a different view of our options and the first choice to enter our mind should be that since this problem seems so monumental and so overwhelming, maybe the facts actually conformed to the questioners way of looking at the situation.

And in our case, since the miracle was for the success of Eliezer, the question was that it should have occurred in both directions. Our first reaction to this query should be — “Well, maybe it did” (rather than seek proofs that it did not)! You ask why Rashi made no mention of this fact, well, that was unnecessary — if it happened in one direction we may assume that it happened on the way home also!

This in fact is the way the story is told in Pirkei d’R. Elazar:

At the sixth hour of the day the servant left Charan...the earth shrunk before him and at the third hour of the afternoon he arrived in Charan just before the Minchah prayer. (Chapter 16)

It is surprising that no one thought of this approach and although perhaps the Pirkei d’R. Elazar is not commonly studied we also find the same interpretation in Targum Yonason Ben Uziel on the verse:

Just as the road was shortened on his journey to Padan Aram, so too, was the journey shortened on his return, for on the same day that he left he returned. (Targum, loc. cit.)