24/929 A Mission from God

This is a hopefully daily series of short reflections in English on the daily chapter of Tanach in the (wonderful, wonderful) 929 Project. The initiative, and the ideas and opinions expressed here, are my own. If you haven’t heard of 929, you can learn more at 929.org.il

What’s remarkable about chapter 24 is that over the course of 67 (!) verses, God does not speak even once, and yet, nevertheless, all of the action revolves around His activity. In that sense, the powerful spirituality of this chapter can resonate more closely with our own religious experience than many other chapters in the Bible where the experience of God is immanently heard and felt. It’s interesting to note that Avraham’s servant doesn’t really need to inject God into his matchmaking formula. His test is valid on purely logical grounds, measuring the degree to which the prospective bride matches the attributes of hospitality and sensitivity which are the pillars of Avraham’s home. Nevertheless, the servant does connect the test to Godly intervention, and this seems to be the emphasis of his lengthy repetition of events which so inflates the chapter’s number of verses, and which ultimately convinces Rivka’s family to let her go off to an unknown land and an unknown husband. “The matter has come from God,” (24:50) say the father and brother. You don’t stand in the way of a man who’s on a mission from God. This sense of mission is further emphasized by the servant’s namelessness throughout the chapter. What to some might have been a dreary, demeaning, arduous task, is transformed into an act infused, quite consciously, with Divine significance and import. As the rabbis put it, we can learn even more from the chatter of the servants of the forefathers than from the Torah of the sons. From Avraham’s servant, we learn the power that inserting God’s guiding hand into our daily lives can have not only on our own sense of mission, but even on the very success of that mission.

About the Author
Avidan Freedman is the rabbi of the Shalom Hartman Institute's Hevruta program, an educator Hartman Boys High School in Jerusalem, and an activist against Israeli weapons sales to human rights violators.
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