Eliezer’s Struggle by Rabbi Benny Berlin

The shalshelet, a rare cantillation mark, appears only four times in the entire Chumash. Our Sages tell us that it indicates the existence of an internal struggle.

This is why the shalshelet mark looks and sounds the way it does – a long back and forth.

One of the four shalshelets appears in our Parasha. When Eliezer prays to God to help him find a suitable wife for his master’s son, it uses this rare cantillation mark with the words, “and he said,”
(Bereishit 24:12). What was the struggle that Eliezer was going through? It is not apparent from the pesukim.

Rashi lends some insight into the matter. In Eliezer’s recounting of the tale of how he met Rivkah, he tells her family his reaction to his master’s request: “Perhaps ( אלי ) the woman will not go after me?” (ibid. 39). The word “perhaps” ( אולי ) is always spelled with the letter vav except for this one place in the Torah. Rashi explains, “The word ‘perhaps’ is spelled here like ‘to me,’ (eilai) to allude to the following: Eliezer
had a daughter, and he was searching to find a pretext so that Avraham would tell him to turn to himself, to marry his daughter to Yitzchak.”

Yet, despite Eliezer’s personal desires, he found Rivkah for Yitzchak.

This is something we all go through from time to time, in our relationships with God, others, and even ourselves. We are going to have to determine when to put our needs and wants first, and when to remove
ourselves from the equation and let them go, no matter how right and noble they may seem. It is by no means a small or simple task; it is daunting and challenging. “Many designs are in man’s heart, but the
counsel of Hashem – only it will prevail.” (Mishlei 19:21)

Yehi ratzon milifnei Avinu Shebashamayim that Hashem should guide us to great triumphs over the fierce challenges that face us, and that we should receive an outpouring of blessing without end when we do.