Eliezer, Avraham’s servant, was a great man. Head of his master’s household, he was entrusted to find a wife for our father Yitzchak. He was the man who asked God for guidance and his prayer was immediately answered as Rivkah appeared and offered water to him and to his camels. He was treated like a potentate in the house of Besuel. And yet, the Torah repeatedly refers to him as a “slave.”
How can this great man, entrusted with the conduct of affairs that would affect the future of the world, be referred to as a slave?
The society in which we live tries to give us an illusion of power, but in truth we are not in control of anything. We are taught “empowerment” and we suffer under the myth that we control the world. “Some rely on chariots and some on horses but we call out in the Name of God” (Psalms 20).
If we are lucky we try to control ourselves, but it is a lifetime battle and a hard one at that. “Everything is in the hands of heaven except the fear of heaven” (Brachos 33b). Fear of heaven is all we can try to accomplish in this world.
Now, however, the pitiful state of our weakness is becoming apparent, as the world seems totally out of control. Yes, it is spinning out of our apparent control, but the Master of the Universe is the same as He always has been.
Can we begin to comprehend what is going on in the world today? The forces at work are so massive that no man can understand them, let alone control them. Fires scorch the West; economic tsunamis devastate the heartland; madmen threaten the world with fiery missiles.
The United States has just elected a new president on a mandate of “change.” His power and charisma seem awesome. Yes, the world is changing, but not the way the politicians think. There is only one Master in this world, and it appears that He is preparing the kind of “change” that only those who deal in matters of Torah can understand.
We must seriously prepare for a new world. We must seriously prepare for a total change in the way of life to which we have been accustomed. This is not what I or any other individual may desire, but it seems clear that this is what is happening.
There will come a day when the center of the world will not be New York or Washington or Rome or Beijing or Moscow or Tehran. There will come a day when the center of the world will clearly be understood to be the Temple Mount, lehavdil, and from the Bais Hamikdosh a light will shine forth that will penetrate the entire world.
Do we understand how different that world will be from the present one?
The “light” currently emanating from the bastions of the West and the East will sputter and go out. Commerce will no longer rule the world; “news” will no longer be important; no one will care about Wall Street, about prices and statistics and auto sales and advertisements and vacations and entertainment.
The Word of God will emanate from Yerushalayim. As we say in the Aleinu prayer, “On that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One.”
My wife and I spent the month of Tishrei in the Holy Land. The evening before I returned to the U.S., I prayed at the shul of the well-known posek and Torah leader Rav Yitzchak Berkowitz in Sanhedria Murchevet, Yerushalayim. Between Mincha and Maariv Rav Berkowitz gave a shiur on the upcoming sedra, Lech Lecha. At the time I was upset about many things, including leaving Eretz Yisrael. The economic news was catastrophic. I needed a lift.
What is Lech Lecha? asked Rabbi Berkowitz. What did God say to our father Avraham? What was the rock upon which our holy way of life was founded?
God said to Avraham, “Come away from everything on which you ever thought you depended. Leave it all behind. There is no stability in this world except with Me. You can depend on nothing except Torah. Leave your land, your concepts, your ideas behind – leave everything you thought was real. To the extent you think you can depend on anything else, you are distant from Me. Come to a way of life I will show you. Come to Me and My Torah and then you will live and be a blessing to the world.”