In this week’s Parsha, Abraham sends Eliezer to find a wife for Yitzchak. Abraham makes Eliezer swear that he will not select from the Kinaanim but he should only select a woman from Abraham’s birthplace. Eliezer asks” אולי לא תאבה הבאה ללכת אחרי” Perhaps the woman will not want to follow me. To which Abraham answers that Eliezer is then free from oath.
Later when Rivka brings Eliezer to her parents house Eliezer tells the story of how his mission came about. He repeats the same question but here אולי is spelled אלי.
Rashi comments that Eliezer had a daughter whom he wanted Yitzchak to marry. אולי (to me) suggests that his question really meant “if she does not follow me can Yitzchak marry my daughter.” This still leaves the question why doesn’t the Torah use this ambiguous spelling when Eliezer asked the question to Abraham originally? Furthermore, why does the torah have to make a point of letting us know what Eliezer thought while saying this?
רב אברהם מרדכי מגור answers that when Eliezer was in Abraham’s holy presence he was unable to contemplate such a devious thought but when he left the presence of Avraham he entered the presence of Bituel and Lavan this disloyal thought occurred to him. The lesson the Torah is teaching us is obvious. The people who surround us influence us and like in the case of Eliezer sometimes the effect is so subtle that we can hardly even notice.