We continue with our discussion, which focuses on the story of Eliezer’s search for a wife for Yitzchak. It is somewhat rare, almost non-existent, to find such constant invocation of the Name of Hashem and such explicit discussion of Hashem’s intervention in events when there is no crisis, no one’s life is at stake, the fate of Klal Yisrael does not hang in the balance… Just ‘normal’ life events, ‘normal’ problems, ‘normal’ issues. As such, there is much that we can learn from various aspects of the story and the pesukim therein, which can guide us in our search to grow in the middah of bitachon (relying on Hashem), by finding some parameters and guidelines within Eliezer’s story. Last week, we listed seven aspects that we would be discussing, and elaborated upon the first of them.
Let us continue.
2. Bitachon should be embedded in one’s life, into one’s psyche. One should have to refer to it specifically only when and if questions and/or nisyonos arise.
We find that when Avraham Avinu first instructed Eliezer and charged him with his task, he made no mention of the Almighty’s role in the process. Only after Eliezer raised a potential problem, a possible snag that could complicate and even possibly endanger his mission (“Perhaps the woman will not wish to follow me to this land. Shall I take your son back to the land from which you departed?”) that Avraham speaks about Hashem’s role (“Hashem… Who took me from my father’s house… He will send His angel before you and you will take a wife for my son from there”). Why is that? We actually find a similar phenomenon in the Torah’s discussion of the shemittah year (Vayikra 25:20-21), “And if you shall say what will we eat in the seventh year, indeed we shall neither plant nor reap our produce… And I shall command my blessing during the sixth year and your fields will produce for three years.” There is no mention of a special blessing until the problem has been raised. This is because bitachon is so fundamental an approach to one’s life that it should be embedded in one’s deeds and approach to life as an integral part of one’s psyche. It should not have to be prescribed or advocated. It is only if bitachon is challenged, if questions are raised, if doubts are expressed, that one should refer to it as if it is a phenomenon worthy of endorsement. I live with the fact that my parnassah is a result of Hashem’s decree for me. That is part of my everyday life, and determines the way I conduct my efforts in my workplace. It is only when it is challenged that I talk about it, conjure it up and teach it to those who would doubt.
3. One should always leave a corner of one’s mind open to the possibility that Hashem has other plans than what one might think.
Our third lesson is very fundamental and touches upon the very essence of bitachon. Isn’t it strange that after Avraham offers his ringing statement of confidence of Hashem’s surely working out the shidduch, the very next passuk states: “However, if the woman should not wish to follow you, then you shall be absolved of my oath.” Moreover, Eliezer himself, after telling his amazing story to Besuel and Lavan, after experiencing such a ‘high’ of bitachon that Rashi tells us that he gave Rivkah the jewelry before finalizing his knowledge that she was indeed the right one, after bowing down and thanking Hashem for leading him of the true path towards finding a wife as per his master’s instructions, he says, almost casually, “And if you do not intend to do this kindness with my master, tell me, and I will turn to the right (to the Yishmael family –Rashi) or to the left (the daughters of Lot –Rashi).” What is that about? Is Eliezer confident, sure, bowing and thanking Hashem or is he tentative, doubting, and unsure?
Bitachon means that I rely on Hashem to bring about whatever result I may want. I am not relying on myself, my hard work, my capabilities, my intelligence, my resourcefulness or my expertise. I am not relying on my friend, on my rich Uncle, on the bank, on the protektzia that I may have. I am not relying on the money that I have in the bank nor am I relying on the money that I have in my wallet! I am not relying on my boss, on the electric company, on the bus company, on their driver, on the fellow who supposedly fixed my car. Not on the USA, not on my powers of persuasiveness, not on my strength, not on my political prowess. Rather, I rely only on Hashem —Who may be using any of the abovementioned channels in furthering His decree. The degree to which I rely on Hashem and on Hashem alone, and the extent to which I realize that all other means are merely His channels, is the degree of my bitachon. Ultimately, we all hope and pray that our bitachon be as full-fledged as we can muster.
Nevertheless, we do not know what Hashem has in store for us. We are not privy to Hashem’s game plan, not for the universe, not for the world, not for our country, not for our family —and not even for ourselves. We know and believe that Hashem is only a maytiv. That whatever the game plan is, it is for our benefit, and it is meant to improve us. But we do not know what it is. Thus, we must always, always be open to the possibility that although —yes, we are totally relying on Hashem to get us that job, that shidduch, that school, that apartment, that relationship— but we cannot know that that is His plan for us. Eliezer presents a quite compelling case for the girl who would make the suitable wife for Yitzchak… She fits the requirements and strictures that Avraham had given him to guide his search… Yes, it looks like it is happening, Baruch Hashem! Yet he does not, he cannot know. Perhaps Hashem wants to send him in a completely different direction —maybe he is meant to continue his search and unearth heretofore undreamed of kochos and potential? Maybe Hashem sees my undeveloped latent talents being filled by moving to Gibraltar —maybe? Do I know otherwise? No, indeed one does not. That is lesson number three, taught by the words of Avraham Avinu and Eliezer. Rely fully and completely on Hashem, but you do not —you cannot— know what He has in mind.