Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz: Honesty Is The Best Policy


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yated1.jpgThis week’s parsha details the search for a mate for Yitzchok Avinu. Avrohom sends his trusted servant Eliezer to scout out his homeland for a wife for his beloved son. Eliezer fears that he will not be able to carry out the mission and begs Avrohom for alternatives.

When he reaches his destination, Eliezer prays to Hashem and devises tests to ensure that the girl he meets is Yitzchok’s designated match. Such is Eliezer’s loyalty to his master that he goes beyond what can be expected of any shliach and formulates special prayers and guarantees to ensure that Avrohom’s will is carried out.

Eliezer’s behavior is contrasted in the parsha with that of Efron and Lavan who both sought to take advantage of Avrohom and his pressing need of the hour. They professed to be concerned about Avrohom’s welfare, but actually were plotting to take advantage of him. They were seeking to exploit his desperation.

Both Lavan and Efron made their unsavory mark in history as infamous charlatans; their ruses didn’t fool anyone and they are remembered for eternity as liars and cheats. Eliezer is lauded for his extraordinary devotion and honesty.

Thanks to Eliezer’s unswerving loyalty, Yitzchok found his life partner and was able to help forge the glorious chain begun by his father, Avrohom, which has spanned the centuries to this very day. Lavan and Efron also contributed to Jewish history; Lovon as the brother-in-law of Yitzchok and father-in-law of Yaakov, and Efron as the man who sold Avrohom the Meoras Hamachpeilah. The actions of both men reflect their ignoble motives, as explained by the commentaries.

In life, we encounter all types of people. Many present themselves as dear friends while their hearts are full of malice. True friendship is a rare commodity; loyalty is almost an aberration among men – a refreshing surprise when encountered. Very often, we are confused about whose friendship is real, who can be trusted, and who is out to use us for their benefit without any concern for our own needs.

Each one of us has to rise above the temptations to fall into the Lavan trap; we must live by high standards of decency and honesty, despite the daily challenges we face. We must be more charitable toward our friends, forgiving them for their mistakes and human failings, without condemning them. A true friend accepts your flaws and blemishes just as you should accept theirs. A true friend doesn’t let go of you when times are rough or when being your friend might be inconvenient or costly.

A true friend is the best gift anyone could be blessed with. The knowledge that you have a loyal companion with whom you can share everything is the ultimate comfort. The knowledge that you have someone who would go to the ends of the world for you is true solace in a dangerous and lonely world. It is only with the help and support of friends that we get by in a world of treachery and turpitude.

Eliezer stands for all time as the epitome of a loyal friend and student. Eliezer achieved immortality because he was a true friend to Avrohom and to the Jewish people. He journeyed to a strange land and negotiated with devious people in order to satisfy the wishes of his master Avrohom, whether he understood them or not.

So often, we are tested to determine whether we will behave like Lavan or like Eliezer. There is a little of Efron everywhere; one can always find people who seek to take advantage of others for monetary gain. People are often tempted to twist the truth just a little bit in order to gain the upper hand in a negotiation. People promote themselves as men of virtue in order to disarm others and to facilitate their exploitation.

While they may think that they have come out ahead because they pocketed some extra change, this week’s parsha reminds us that the achievements of crooked people are momentary and fleeting. Ultimately, it is those who persevere in being honest whose advance is true and lasting. They are the ones who sleep well at night. They are the fortunate individuals who have loyal and dear friends who respect them and their accomplishments.

The children and talmidim of the Avrohom Avinus and Yitzchok Avinus of this world achieve immortality and earn the loyalty and servitude of people such as Eliezer. Those who follow in the ways of grandpa Lavan and Efron are eventually exposed and become figures of eternal derision.

It is not always easy to be loyal to a cause or to a person; life has a way of severely testing our moral fiber. Those who remain loyal to their ideals no matter how difficult it becomes are the ones who endure. They are the winners in the deadly contest of good versus evil.

Though it seems much longer, it is only six years since the passing of Maran Harav Shach zt”l. With his yahrtzeit this week, one can’t help but take note of how drastically the world has changed in those six years. How many of us have decided that since he is no longer with us, it no longer pays to fight for what he taught us? How many have compromised and moved on? How many have made peace with those he taught us to separate ourselves from?

How many have turned the other way when seeing evil triumph because we don’t want to be mocked? How many of us publicly and privately engage in behavior we know we would never do if he were alive and able to admonish us?

Although his memory has dimmed among the forgetful and the ideals he taught have weakened, we must strengthen ourselves to remain loyal to the path he illuminated with his outstanding gadlus b’Torah and his brilliant example. We must remind ourselves and others that heeding that example and following that path will lead us to the reception line for greeting Moshiach Tzidkeinu bekarov.

© 2007 Yated Neeman.