Candid Camel: Chayei Sara 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How often do we pay much more attention to minor characters in your favorite stories? Why do some writers do this?

Abraham’s head servant is not named in the Torah (though we have reason to believe his name was Eliezer), but when we read of his journey to find Isaac a wife, we learn an awful lot about the episode:

The Pitch: “So the man entered the house, and the camels were unloaded. The camels were given straw and feed, and water was brought to bathe his feet and the feet of the men with him.” – Genesis 24:32

Swing #1: “Rabbi Acha concludes that mundane conversation of men such as Abraham’s servant Eliezer is esteemed more highly God than the learned discussion of Torah by the children of the patriarchs; he derives this from the inordinate amount of detail provided by the Torah to the minutiae of the story of Eliezer at the well.” – Radak

Swing #2: “The servant would of course have had men with him and his ten camels, but in keeping with the rigorous economy of biblical narrative, these are not mentioned until now, when they become requisite participants in the hospitality scene. Before this, they are only fleetingly intimated in the ‘us’ of verse 23.” – Robert Alter, The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary

Swing #3: “Here the verse reverts to activities performed by Laban, who displayed concern for the well-being of his guests and their beasts. Apparently, the camels had been tied to one another while they had been wandering.” – Tur HaAroch

Late-Inning Questions: When you first learned this part of the book of Genesis, did you realize that Abraham’s servant travels with an entourage? Why do we learn so much about these people, not to mention their camels? What does our study of these characters teach us? Why do seemingly random people make such a difference in our memories?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: We’re proud that, in the fourth year of the program, our Lifelong Learning students will once again make a presentation to celebrate their studies. Join us on Zoom Saturday, November 21st, at 5:45pm as they lead us in Havdalah and other songs.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of seemingly random people, we find that managers with little to no Major League playing experience do just as well, if not better, than managers who were standout players. Might this be because a manager who was an ordinary player has a better chance to relate current players who are struggling?

Shabbat Shalom!