Updated: Oct 27, 2021
In the long and detailed narrative of the search for a bride for Yitzhak,Eliezer of Damascus is not mentioned in this Parshah of Chayei Sarah. He is mentioned in Parshat Lech Lecha, as Abram's faithful servant who could inherit Abram's property if a child is not born to Abram and Sarai but his name is never mentioned in the entirety of this story. There seems to be some confusion as to who this servant is Is his name Eliezer? Is he the son of Mesek? Is he from Damascus? Was he Avram's trusted steward and considered to inherit Avram's wealth, as Rashi suggests?
So much text is devoted to the story of Avram's instruction to his nameless servant. We travel along with him as he journeys with the heavy responsibility of a person who is responsible for bonding families together.
This person, this nameless person, this Eliezer moves our narrative on with grace.
What was particularly touching to me is witnessing the nameless steward's uncertainties during this job that required so much more than knowledge, but intuition and deep understanding of people.
I wondered this week about the people upon whom we rely on for so much.
Do we know their stories? Perhaps knowing their stories will bring greater understanding of the nameless, of the Eliezers.
For more information on Eliezer, please see this article.
For other poems on Parshat Chayei Sarah, please see:
An addendum from a respected friend. He added this when he read the piece.
" I have been moved by the devotion of Abraham’s servants to him. The men all became circumcised for him. So not only was he greatly trusted by Abraham, he trusted Abraham perhaps even more." This is indeed a worthy addition to this introduction and leads us to think about the relationship between Abraham and Eliezer. My friend also added four lines to this poem which I am printing in a different color.
And Abraham said to the senior servant of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Put your hand under my thigh"
Perhaps we know his name,
perhaps we do not.
Sometimes it matters
and sometimes we don’t even bother to ask.
Who was Eliezer, your trusted servant?
Did he have parents who cared for him?
Did he hark from a small village or a farm?
Was he conquered or overrun?
Did he come willingly to your home,
to your trust?
Eliezer's story begins when he enters the doors
into your life,
Eliezer, what do you dream of at night?
Do you worry about how you might disappoint us?
Do you fear us?
Have you lost yourself in us?
The world is full of Eliezers.
Doing for others.
Making, matching, delivering, sealing the deal.
If not for Eliezer, who would guard your doors ?
Who would clean your home,
cut your lawn,
who would pick your fruits and your vegetables ?
Who would prepare your restaurant meals
and serve them to
you with a smile?
Eliezer, your story will be told
Your story of service to others
will be honored,
will be valued.
The story of
Eliezer the Uber driver,
the fruit picker.
Eliezer the house cleaner,
Eliezer, the janitor.
Eliezer, the doer.
Eliezer, the man
Eliezer, the man
Eliezer, the human.
Eliezer, the trusted.
Eliezer, we depend on you.
Am I worthy of the same trust?
Do I serve you with the same devotion?
I am better for you or
are you the better for me?
May we open our eyes to you,
Eliezer of Damascus
Or Eliezer of Haiti,
Eliezer of Mexico,
Eliezer of India,
or Eliezer of Afghanistan
There is a place in heaven for those who serve with love and trust
and those who take the time to learn about those who serve them.
Benjamin West (1738-1820): Isaac's Servant Tying the Bracelet on Rebecca's Arm
But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what can You give me, seeing that I shall die childless, aMeaning of Heb. uncertain.and the one in charge of my household is Dammesek Eliezer!”
Genesis 15:2 (Sefaria)
And Abraham said to the senior servant of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Put your hand under my thigh
and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell,
but will go to the land of my birth and get a wife for my son Isaac.”
Genesis 24:2-4 (Sefaria)