A Key to Eternal Life

One of the outstanding heroes of this parashah is Eliezer, that devoted and selfless servant of Avraham Avinu. Entrusted by his master to find a shidduch for Yitzchak, he finds himself having a conflict of interests, as in his heart he dearly wishes Yitzchak for a son-in-law. Avraham Avinu informs him, “My son is blessed and you are cursed, and one who is blessed cannot cleave to one who is cursed.”

A lesser man would have found this rejection devastating and would have declined the mission, or at the very least done an inferior job at it.

But not Eliezer, whose dedication to his master knew no bounds. Upon his arrival at his destination, he poured out his heart to Hashem in tefillah, beseeching that he be successful in his task.

Since in external appearance Eliezer resembled Avraham Avinu, when Lavan first caught sight of him he mistook him for his master and declaimed, “Bo Beruch Hashem — come, the blessed of Hashem!”

Hagaon Harav Chaim Shmulevitz, zt”l, points out that Eliezer was unwilling to benefit — even for a short while — from undeserved honor. The very first words he uttered after he was granted permission to speak were “I am a slave of Avraham.”

Indeed, perhaps the three words that are most closely associated with Eliezer are “eved Avraham anochi.

Avraham Avinu referred to him as Damesek Eliezer. While some explain this to mean that he originally was from Damascus, or alternatively that during the great battle he pursued the mighty kings until Damascus, Chazal (Yoma 28b) explain it as an acronym for “He drew and gave drink from the Torah of his master to others.”

Who exactly was this great Torah scholar, faithful servant and closest disciple of Avraham Avinu?

There is one view that Eliezer was actually Canaan, the son of Cham, who was personally cursed by Noach. In that case, Eliezer was a first cousin of Arpachshad — who was Avraham Avinu’s ancestor some eight generations back!

Other sources identify Eliezer as the son of Nimrod, the son of Cush who was the son of Cham and a brother to Canaan. (Nimrod was, of course, the very king who had Avraham Avinu thrown into a burning furnace.)

Chazal list nine individuals who entered Gan Eden alive. This list contains some familiar names such as Chanoch, Moshiach, Eliyahu, Serach bas Asher and Basya the daughter of Pharaoh. It also includes some lesser-known names such as Yaavetz the son of Rabbeinu Hakadosh. There are different opinions about Rabi Yehoshua ben Levi or Chiram the king of Tzur, but all agree that Eliezer the servant of Avraham Avinu is on that list.

When the Chessed L’Avraham — great-grandfather of the Chida — was forced to enter the subterranean area of Me’aras Hamachpelah to retrieve the fallen sword of a pasha, he is said to have fainted at the sight of a man who identified himself as Eliezer. It is in fact mentioned in the Gemara that Eliezer continues — to this very day — to faithfully serve his master.

Therefore, the fact that Pirkei D’Rabi Eliezer identifies Eliezer as none other than Og, King of Bashan, seems incomprehensible. How can Eliezer — who entered Gan Eden alive — possibly be the giant killed in battle by Moshe Rabbeinu?

This question is raised by the Daas Zekeinim Baalei haTosafos, stating that like the Pharaohs of Egypt, every King of Bashan was named Og. Hence, while Eliezer also served for a time as King of Bashan and was known as Og, he was not the same person as the giant Og who was killed by Moshe Rabbeinu.

The Midrash Talpiyos (Harav Eliyahu Hakohen, mechaber of Shevet Mussar) explains it esoterically:

Every human is comprised of two conflicting, competing parts: good vs. evil, purity versus impurity. For most of us it is a daily battle to ensure that the good triumphs over the bad.

On rare occasions in Tanach, we find the concept of actually separating these two entities. Whenever Achashverosh summoned Esther, a sheidah (demon) resembling Esther went while the real Esther stayed behind. This sheidah was actually the impure part of Esther that Mordechai Hatzaddik was able to separate from the essence of Esther.

This explains the “two Ogs.” Avraham Avinu separated Eliezer into two entities. The spiritually elevated part of Eliezer went alive to Gan Eden. Only the impure part stayed on, to become Og, the king of Bashan and eventually be killed by Moshe Rabbeinu.

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As we ordinary mortals continue to wage our personal battles, it would be beneficial to emulate the selfless virtues of Eliezer. Despite the curse thrust upon him, he reached great levels of Torah and perfection of middos by cleaving to a tzaddik.

Fortunate is he who can declare “Eved Avraham anochi!” This is a key to eternal life.