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Friday, November 2

The Weekly Shtikle - Chayei Sarah

This discussion is covered from a dikduk angle on Dikdukian. In Eliezer's prayer after discovering that he had happened upon Rivkah, he exclaims (24:27) "anochi baderech nachani HaShem, beis achei adoni." He blesses HaShem for having led him to the house of his master's brothers – brothers in plural. When recounting this prayer to Rivkah's family, he states (24:48) "lakachas es bas achi adoni," to take the daughter of my master's brother – brother in singular. Surely, great care needs to be taken to differentiate these two words when laining. But it is certainly puzzling that the words are changed even with respect to the very same prayer.

One reader humourously noted that Besuel is the son of Nachor, Avraham's brother, but also the son of Milka, the son of Haran, Avraham's other brother. So Rivka was both Avraham's niece and grandniece and descended from two of Avraham's brothers. However, this does not explain the change.

Another reader suggested, based on the above that the plural is certainly appropriate. This is only in the first verse where, in context, he is referring to beis, the house, which was indeed that of  both brothers. But in the second verse he is referring to Rivkah as the daughter of his master's brother. Here the plural simply wouldn't be appropriate.

I suggest, however, that Eliezer was perhaps adjusting his words for a very clever reason. When he embarked on his journey, he did not know where he would end up. If he were to successfully encounter Avraham's family, he wasn't even certain which of the brothers it would be. Perhaps we can understand the term beis achei adoni as the house of one of my master's brothers. However, this would not have been a very kind way of addressing the actual family from which he had chosen Yitzchak's wife. The implication to them would have been, "it could have been you, it could have been someone else." So when speaking to them he used the more specific, implying that this was the brother of his master he was seeking all along.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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Dikdukian: Different Forms of Yirash

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