“BOTH”ness – Rav Motti Berger

This week’s Parsha relates the story of how Rivka became Yitzchak’s wife. Avraham didn’t want Yitzchak to leave Eretz Yisrael, and instead sent his trustworthy slave Eliezer to find a wife for Yitzchak from among Avraham’s relatives back East.

Eliezer asks Avraham (Ch 24:vs 5), “Perhaps the woman (meant for Yitzchak) won’t want to return with me?” Avraham responds that under NO circumstance was Yitzchak to leave Eretz Yisrael, and that Eliezer would not be held accountable for the failure of his mission in such a case.

RASHI points out that the word “Perhaps” (“oolai”) is usually spelled with FOUR letters – ayin, vav, lamed, and yud but that in THIS instance it is spelled WITHOUT a vav. In such a case, the word ayin, vav, yud can be pronounced “aylai’ as well as “oolai”. Oolai would be translated as “perhaps”, but aylai would translate as “for me”. RASHI says (Ch 24:vs 39), that Eliezer was giving us a dual message. That while he wanted to fulfill his mission for his master Avraham, he was a little bit disappointed that now Eliezer’s own daughter – whom he wanted to be Yitzchak’s wife and a matriarch of the Jewish people – would be denied that possibility once and for all.

But the great Chassidic Master known as the Kotzker points out a problem. The story in this week’s parsha is actually told TWICE, once when the Torah tells us the story and again when Eliezer repeats the story to Rivka’s family. But the spelling of “oolai” – perhaps – in a way that can be read as “aylai” – for me – only happens in the REPETITION of the story! In the first telling, it’s spelled ayin, vav, lamed, yud, and can ONLY be read as “perhaps”, and NOT as “for me”. The Kotzker says that this tells us something very powerful about our own hidden subjectivity. It’s telling us that when Eliezer first went on his mission(Ch 24: vs 5), he was totally unaware of his unconscious desire to fail in bringing Rivka to Yitzchak. He thought that he was totally focused on succeeding in his mission. Only AFTER he succeeded in fulfilling his mission did he become aware that a tiny part of him was disappointed in his success.

We, too, should always remain aware of the duality within ourselves – in our

“BOTH”ness – and thereby understand ourselves on a much deeper level.

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