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The Hidden Agenda - Psychoanalysis and the Torah

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Rabbi YY Jacobson

Discover Your Hidden Agendas But Don't Despair

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Eliezer was sent by Abraham to Charan (modern day north-Syria) to bring back a wife for his only son Isaac. In this monumental marriage, the first Jewish shidduch, the entire Jewish future lay. Eliezer is given only one requirement: The girl must be a relative of Abraham. It is here that Eliezer is torn, because he too has a daughter, and as Abraham’s faithful and devoted servant, he can dream of nothing greater than Isaac becoming his son-in-law.

But Eliezer is not a relative of Abraham; on the contrary he is a descendant of Canaan, the son that Noah who was cursed. However hope is not lost. Abraham tells Eliezer that if the girl in Charan refuses to return to Israel, the condition is off, he is not responsible to fulfill his oath and bring a girl from Charan."

Thus, it is with mixed emotions that Eliezer embarks on his mission. His profound devotion to Abraham wants him to succeed, but his own selfish hopes for his daughter undermine his mission. Yet, unlike Lot, Eliezer overcomes his inner inhibitions and succeeds in the mission placed upon him. Whereas Lot became paralyzed and had to be dragged out of Sodom, Eliezer smoothly and confidently succeeds remarkably well. It is clear that unlike Lot, Eliezer has resolved his own ambivalence and overcame his inner inhibitions. How?

We learned last week about the ambivalence and deep psychological conflict expressed by the cantorial shalsheles note. There is a shalsheles in Vayeira, and now there is another one in Chayei Sarah. In Vayeira, the torn character, the owner of the shalsheles, was Lot, in Chayei Sarah it is Eliezer, the servant of Abraham.

Tags: chayei sarah
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