Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
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.
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.
Even Higher Than Angels
It is one of the most famous scenes in the Bible. Abraham is sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day when three strangers pass by. He urges them to rest and take some food. The text calls them men. They are in fact angels, coming to tell Sarah that she will have a child.
The chapter seems simple. It is, however, complex and ambiguous. It consists of three sections:
Verse 1: G‑d appears to Abraham.
Verses 2–16: Abraham and the men/angels.
Verses 17–33: The dialogue between G‑d and Abraham about the fate of Sodom.
How are these sections related to one another? Are they one scene, two or three? The most obvious answer is three. Each of the above sections is a separate event. First, G‑d appears to Abraham, as Rashi explains, “to visit the sick” after Abraham’s circumcision. Then the visitors arrive with the news about Sarah’s child. Then takes place the great dialogue about justice.
Judaism, Reason and Beyond
There is a comfortable, rational way of looking at life, which fits quite comfortably into normal frames of consciousness. It is acceptable. This is why "Reason" and reasonableness are often the underlying tone of the voice of the media, claiming to speak for everyone, whatever the message which is really being conveyed. Perhaps surprisingly, Reason can also include what we might term "religious" perspectives and valiant, apparently heroic behavior. The person who makes reason his theme can be dedicated to an ideal, and might carry out extraordinary deeds to further it.