Divine Guidiance by Ben Krinsky

(2004/5765) In this week’s Parsha, Avraham sends his servant
Eliezer to find a wife for his son Yitzchak from among
Avraham’s relatives living in Charan. Upon reaching the local
well where many young women gather, Eliezer prays to
Hashem for help. He makes an oath that he would ask a
woman for some water and if she volunteers to water his
camels as well, then he would know that she is the correct
woman for Yitzchak. However, this is a strange request
because the girl might not be from Avraham’s family, from
whom Eliezer was instructed to search!
The Gemara in Taanit (4a) raises brings up this exact
point while explaining three people in Tanach who took similar
open ended oaths. In addition to Eliezer, the Gemara
mentions Shaul Hamelech who made an oath that whoever
would kill Galyat would receive a large cash sum and his
daughter’s hand in marriage. However, the person who killed
Galyat could have been someone unfit to marry a Jewish
princess. Additionally, the Gemara relates the story of Yiftach
who before going to battle made an oath that if Hashem
would help him win the war, he would offer as a Korban the
first thing to exit his house. However, again this is a difficult
to comprehend because the first thing to exit Yiftach’s house
could have been an animal unfit to be offered as a Korban.
Despite their inappropriate oaths, Hashem helped Eliezer and
Shaul, as Elizer found Rivka and David became Shaul’s son
in-law. On the other hand, Hashem didn’t help Yiftach as his
daughter was the first one to exit his house. Yet, the question
is, why was Yiftach less fortunate than the others?
Rav Ravir of Yeshivat Shaarei Mevaseret Ziyon
posits that Eliezer and Shaul made their oaths in order to
benefit the Jewish people, therefore, there requests were
honored. However, Yiftach only wanted to pad his ego; he
wanted to be the one to save the Jews from Amon. The
Gemara even points out Yiftach’s haughtiness by commenting
that he could have gone to a Kohen to annul his oath once
death was imposed upon his daughter, yet, he says that the
Kohen should come to him since he is the leader of Bnei
Yisrael (see Tosafot ad. Loc. s.v. Vihynu). We can learn from
these three individuals the importance of doing Mitzvot
Lishma. If we do Hashem’s will, He will guide our actions in
the right direction.

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