Thursday, November 01, 2007

Chayyei Sarah: How Do We Know Eliezer Had Kefitzat HaDerech?

Because Rashi tells us so!

But he basis himself on a pasuk. That pasuk stated {Bereshit 24:42}:

מב וָאָבֹא הַיּוֹם, אֶל-הָעָיִן; וָאֹמַר, ה אֱלֹהֵי אֲדֹנִי אַבְרָהָם, אִם-יֶשְׁךָ-נָּא מַצְלִיחַ דַּרְכִּי, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי הֹלֵךְ עָלֶיהָ. 42 And I came this day unto the fountain, and said: O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, if now Thou do prosper my way which I go:

Rashi states:
So I came today Today I left, and today I arrived. From here we learn that the earth shrank for him [i.e., his journey was miraculously shortened].
It seems to me that the derasha here is clearly on the word hayom. The heh hayedi'a is understood midrashically as referring to some known entity. On a peshat level, we might say "Nu, the known entity of 'the day' is the present day, that is today, or this day, as we see in the English translation." Thus, Eliezer arrived at the house and tells the events of the present day. But we can say it refers to the known entity of the same day of the preceding verse. In that verse, he is talking to Avraham. Thus, the trip would be that same day.

I would, however, suggest that two or three other pesukim contribute to this particular derash. This is often the case -- an overt derasha, but other support pesukim as well. These pesukim are:

1. Pasuk 40:
לט וָאֹמַר, אֶל-אֲדֹנִי: אֻלַי לֹא-תֵלֵךְ הָאִשָּׁה, אַחֲרָי. 39 And I said unto my master: Peradventure the woman will not follow me.
מ וַיֹּאמֶר, אֵלָי: ה אֲשֶׁר-הִתְהַלַּכְתִּי לְפָנָיו, יִשְׁלַח מַלְאָכוֹ אִתָּךְ וְהִצְלִיחַ דַּרְכֶּךָ, וְלָקַחְתָּ אִשָּׁה לִבְנִי, מִמִּשְׁפַּחְתִּי וּמִבֵּית אָבִי. 40 And he said unto me: The LORD, before whom I walk, will send His angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house;
2. Pasuk 56:
נו וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם אַל-תְּאַחֲרוּ אֹתִי, וַה הִצְלִיחַ דַּרְכִּי; שַׁלְּחוּנִי, וְאֵלְכָה לַאדֹנִי. 56 And he said unto them: 'Delay me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.'
Both of these pesukim talk of Hashem prospering his way, his derech. This can easily be taken as kefitzat haderech, making his traveling quick. Especially in light of the context in pasuk 56, in which he rejects the delay. Hashem wants this to go quickly, and thus there is this kefitzat haderech, do don't you slow me down.

3. Pasuk 10-11:
י וַיִּקַּח הָעֶבֶד עֲשָׂרָה גְמַלִּים מִגְּמַלֵּי אֲדֹנָיו, וַיֵּלֶךְ, וְכָל-טוּב אֲדֹנָיו, בְּיָדוֹ; וַיָּקָם, וַיֵּלֶךְ אֶל-אֲרַם נַהֲרַיִם--אֶל-עִיר נָחוֹר. 10 And the servant took ten camels, of the camels of his master, and departed; having all goodly things of his master's in his hand; and he arose, and went to Aram-naharaim, unto the city of Nahor.
יא וַיַּבְרֵךְ הַגְּמַלִּים מִחוּץ לָעִיר, אֶל-בְּאֵר הַמָּיִם, לְעֵת עֶרֶב, לְעֵת צֵאת הַשֹּׁאֲבֹת. 11 And he made the camels to kneel down without the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time that women go out to draw water.
Thus, he leaves and goes to Aram Naharayim, and laEt erev arrives outside the city. This can be taken as leaving in the morning and arriving before nightfall. Especially given the other pesukim. Thus, the derasha is not a stand-alone derasha, but fits into several pesukim in the narrative, even as Rashi attaches to one particular pasuk.


eLamdan said...

Very interesting torah blog... I've just linked to you.

joshwaxman said...

i've done so as well.
kol tuv,

Chaim B. said...

Do you have a hesber of why kefitzas haderech was necessary?

joshwaxman said...

My guess is that it was not really necessary, but that several factors might have warranted it:

1) Avraham's promise of "God-speed," that is, that he would have Hashem's assistance in accomplishing the task. This would then be Divine fulfillment of that promise.

2) Zerizin makdimin leMitzvot. And Eliezer had vowed, so perhaps a concept of Bal teAcher. And Avraham was advancing in age. And whatever factor caused Eliezer to argue against the delay proposed by Rivkah's brother and mother.

3) Maaseh Avadim siman labanim. This is another connection between Eliezer getting a wife for Yitzchak and Yaakov getting a wife for himself. Other connections include the well. Whatever warrants it for Yaakov warrants it for Eliezer at the same task.


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