Thoughts from Kollel KLAL

Chayei Sara

The passuk states that Eliezer asked Rivka “היש בית אביך מקום לנו ללין, Is there in your father’s house a place to sleep overnight?” She responds “גם מקום לנו ללון, There is also place to sleep overnight.” When Lavan hears about Eliezer’s visit he says “Why shall you stand outside, ואנכי פניתי הבית ומקום לגמלים.” The Seforno explains that Lavan cleared out his house to make space for both Eliezer and his servants, and for the camels. Onkelos translates the word מקום as “a kosher place” which simply means a place fitting for lodging; there was space and proper conditions to sleep over night.

The Avos D’Rebi Nosson brings: just as the early tzaddikim were pious, so too their animals were pious. The camels of Avraham Avinu did not enter into the house of idolatry as it states “ואנכי פניתי הבית, and I cleared out the house from idols.” The Maharal explains that Lavan’s words are extra, as Rivka already said that there is place to sleep. Lavan adds that not only is the place cleared out, making room physically for them, but it is also clear of the tumah from idolatry. The passuk follows, “ומקום לגמלים” to teach that the camels did not enter into the house of Lavan until all the idolatry was gotten rid of. Avraham’s camels would not enter into a place of tumah, so as not to be together with detestable things.

Avi Mori shlit”a explained that Onkelos who translated the word מקום as a kosher place, is hinting to this Avos D’Rebi Nosson. It was a kosher place, which did not have any idols remaining in the house.

The Avos D’Rebi Nosson then brings a story with the donkey of Rebi Chanina Ben Dosa. (The Breishis Rabbah brings a similar story with Rebbi Pinchas Ben Ya’ier’s donkey.) Robbers stole his donkey and tied it in their courtyard. They placed before it wheat and barley to eat, and water to drink, yet the donkey did not eat or drink. This was because the donkey would not eat from the robbers’ untithed or stolen food. They said, “Why should we leave the donkey to die and cause the courtyard to smell?” So they got up, opened the door, and let the donkey out. The donkey left, and walked until it reached the house of Rebi Chanina, where it made noise. The son of Rebi Chanina heard the donkey making noise and said to his father, “it sounds like the noise of our animal.” Rebi Chanina said, “Open up the door for the donkey, for it will soon die of starvation.” His son opened up the door and placed before the donkey wheat, barley, and water, and it ate and drank. Rebi Chanina knew his donkey would not eat any prohibited food.

May Hashem help us learn from Eliezer and Avraham Avinu’s camels to distance ourselves from all things of tumah and issur, thereby enabling ourselves retain our level of kedusha.

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