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A MATTER OF PRIORITY

by Torah From Dixie Research Department    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"And I (Abraham) will have you (Eliezer) swear by Hashem, G-d of heaven and G-d of earth, that you not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I now dwell.

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"And I (Abraham) will have you (Eliezer) swear by Hashem, G-d of heaven and G-d of earth, that you not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I now dwell. Rather to my homeland and to my kindred shall you go and take a wife for my son, for Isaac" (Genesis 24:3-4).

When it comes to matters of spirituality, people are quite willing to trust their neighbors. When a person tells his friend that a particular food is kosher, the friend usually trusts him without question and eats it. However, with regard to physical matters - for example when someone's friend tells him that a particular business deal is worthwhile - he is unwilling to totally rely on his friend's word and instead goes himself to investigate the business deal carefully.

Abraham, on the other hand, relied totally on his servant Eliezer in physical matters, as the verse says that Eliezer "controlled all that was [Abraham's]" (ibid. 24:2). But with regard to spiritual matters like the selection of a wife for Isaac, Abraham didn't totally rely on Eliezer and wanted him to go so far as to swear that he would carry out his role properly.

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Excerpted from BDarchei Mussar by Rabbi Yaacov Naiman, a 20th century educator of Torah ethics in Israel.

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