In retrospect: Chaye Sarah

When Eliezer recounts his experience in discovering Rivka, he provides her family with the full background of his mission. In telling the story, he says when Avraham charged him to find a wife for Yitzchak, he warned him that under no circumstances was he to be taken out of Eretz Yisroel. Eliezer raised the question of the bride-to-be not wanting to leave her home, and put in terms of "oolay lo telech haisha acharay" [perhaps the woman would refuse to follow me]. The word for perhaps there is written with a missing vav so that it may be read elay [to me], Rashi explains that Eliezer had a daughter of his own that he hoped Yitzchak would marry, and that's what is signfied by the Freudian slip of elay. Understanding that personal motivation, Avraham assured him that his son with his blessed status would not be marrying his servant's daughter whose status is the opposite of his, for ayn arur medavel bevaruch.

Here's the thing: the text doesn't show Eliezer saying elay in the record of his conversation with Avraham as it happened. We only see it in the narrative Eliezer presents after the fact. My grandfather offers this explanation: at the time that Eliezer had that conversation with Avraham he did not feel that hope that was buried in the depths of his soul that his master would consent to a connection of marriage between their children.   However, now after it became clear that Hashem made him successful in his quest just as Avraham promised him, he is able to recognize and register he doubts he ha when he spoke with Avraham before setting out and that they were motivated by the secret desire of his heart -- the hope that Avraham would consent to the union. He was not even cognizant of that desire at the time he expressed the possibility of not succeeding in Avraham's plan. But now it became clear to him, and that's why the word oolay here is written elay.

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