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Parshat Chayei Sara – Rabbi Goldin

October 27, 2010

Why Go Back?

by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, author of Unlocking the Torah Text


As Avraham’s life draws near its end, he turns to his trusted servant (identified by the rabbis as Eliezer) and instructs him to return to his homeland, Aram Naharaim, in order to find a wife for Yitzchak. He specifies that he does not want Yitzchak to marry a woman from the Canaanite nations that surround him. (Aram Naharaim is generally identified as the area bounded by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Padan Aram, mentioned in the text as the birthplace of Rivka and the home of her extended family, refers to a specific region within Aram Naharaim.)


Avraham’s decision seems completely counterintuitive. Why does he send Eliezer back to Aram Naharaim to find a match for Yitzchak? After all, isn’t this the very land that Avraham himself was commanded to leave at the dawn of his career? The patriarch’s own journey was launched when God commanded him to separate himself from his homeland, his birthplace and the home of his father. What possible reason could there now be to return to that land?

Complicating matters is the fact that there would seem to be absolutely no moral difference between the inhabitants of Canaan and the inhabitants of Aram Naharaim. Both locations are populated by idol worshipers.

It cannot be said that Avraham does not want his son to intermarry; there are no Hebrews in either location.

Continued here: link

Adapted from one of the multiple essays on this parsha in Unlocking the Torah Text by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin.