And Avraham was old well on into his years, and Hashem had blessed Avraham with everything. (Genesis 24:1)
The Gemara in Bava Metzia (87a) teaches us that until the time of Avraham, there was no such thing as old age. With Avraham came the phenomenon of old age.
The Maharsha teaches us that the Gemarah is not to be understood literally that Avraham was the first man to live a long life and thus be called old. Many men lived much longer than Avraham and old age was certainly a common phenomenon. Rather, Avraham was the first to display signs of old age such as white hairs, wrinkles, and other physical conditions. Until the time of Avraham, it was difficult to differentiate between father and son; they both looked alike. Avraham was the first to show signs of old age and thus make it obvious to all that he was the father and Yitzchak was the son.
Perhaps we can suggest an alternative explanation.
A human being is made up of two parts, the physical and the spiritual. These two components react differently to age. The physical body is in its prime only during its youth. As a person grows old his physical body weakens. Old age is regarded as a liability to the physical component of the human being. The converse is true with regard to the spiritual side of the human being. When one is young, he lacks a profound sense yiras shamayim. Only with age and life experience does one truly acquire deep insight into the ways of Hashem. Only with time does one truly witness the incredible hashgacha and mida k'neged mida of Hashem. With regard to this spiritual component of the human being, old age is an asset.
Until the time of Avraham, the world was void of spirituality. Man was slave to his base physical desires and worshiped false and strange idols. The greatest idol was none other than physical prowess. The posukim are replete with references to this ideology. For example: "They were the mighty, who from days of old were men of great name." (Genesis 6:4). Here the posuk informs us that great name depended on physical strength. It is precisely because the world was geared to the physical that no value was attributed to old age, i.e., when the physical body is at its all time low. Along came Avraham who introduced the world to spirituality. Spirituality is an ongoing process that gets better with time. Spirituality is like wine; the older it gets, the better it is. Thus, as a byproduct of spirituality, old age received value.
Let us now review the Gemarah. Until the time of Avraham, there was no old age. This means that, until Avraham's time, old age had no value, but when Avraham introduced spirituality to the world, old age acquired its well-deserved and long awaited value.
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Then the servant took ten camels of his master's camels and set out with all the good of his master in his hand and made his way to Aram Naharaim to the city of Nachor. (Genesis 24:10)
What does it mean that Eliezer took all the good of his master in his hand?
Rashi provides us with the simple explanation. Avraham gave Eliezer a deed that stated that the one to marry Yitzchak would receive all his material possessions. The purpose of the deed was to help convince the worthy girl and her family that it would be a great benefit to marry Yitzchak.
Perhaps we may suggest an alternative explanation.
Avraham devoted his entire being to avodas Hashem. He fought the world to teach them that there was a Creator who continues to guide and control the world. He withstood ten difficult tests that culminated with the akeida. As a reward for his life's work, Hashem blessed him and promised him unlimited blessing. The blessing however would only come to fruition through his children. Avraham was now old; the time had come to pass on his merits to the next generation. The big question was through whom would the blessing be channeled. Whom would be Yitzchak's partner in bringing to fruition this unlimited reward. If Eliezer would fail in his mission by choosing the wrong mate for Yitzchak, Avraham's life work would be in danger of being lost. The responsibility of Eliezer was thoroughly awesome. In his hands lay the destiny of Klal Yisroel. In his hands lay the life work of Avraham.
Let us now go back and reinterpret the posuk. The posuk says that Eliezer took all the good in his hands. We can interpret "all the good" as referring to the blessing, merits and destiny of Avrahma Avinu. We can further interpret "in his hands" as in his power or in his responsibility. The posuk in its entirety now informs us that in his mission to find a mate for Yitzchak, Eliezer was now responsible for the destiny of Klal Yisroel.
From this posuk we may learn of the awesome responsibility of a shadchan. When a person takes it upon himself to propose a shidduch, he must realize that he is taking all the good in his hands. Every person has spent their life thus far working to make something of themselves. Every parent has devoted a chunk of their being to mold and shape the character and nature of their child. When one proposes a shidduch, it is vital that the shadchan be conscious of exactly what he is taking in his hands. If the match is inappropriate and the shadchan is motivated by ulterior motives, all the good is in grave danger. It is obviously a great mitzvah to be involved in shidduchim, but one cannot ignore the awesome responsibility that accompanies it.
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We daven everyday in the shmonah esrei "lift the banner to gather in our exiles from all four corners of the earth." It is interesting that the word for banner is in the singular. How is it possible to lift one single banner that will be seen in all four corners of the earth?
Today we live bi'ikvisah dimishichah and many words of chazal have taken on new meanings. Living in the world of the Internet, perhaps we may understand this prayer in a new light. One of the most powerful uses of the Internet is marketing. The buzzword in Internet advertisement is "Banner." When Moshiach arrives, all he needs to do is launch one authentic banner. This banner will be posted on one web page and hosted by a single server. It is true! All we need is one banner and every person from all four corners of the earth can access and see it.
It is likely that the page is already posted with its authentic banner. We need only do a search. The search engine however is not Altavista, Excite or Yahoo, but is called Yiras Shamayim.
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