In this week's Parasha, parashat Chayei Sarah, Eliezer travels to Aram Naharayim, the home of Nachor, to find a wife for Yitzchak. After the story at the Be'er, Rivka runs to her house, to tell her family what has occurred. The Torah then writes something that is extremely difficult to understand. The Torah writes (24:29-30) "Vayaratz Lavan ell ha'ish, hachutzah ell ha'ain. Vayehi kir'ot et hanezem. ..V ay avo ell ha'ish. ..." These 2 pesukim seem to be redundant. Why would the Torah write that Lavan ran to Eliezer, and then that he came to Eliezer, after seeing the jewelry?
Rashi explains that 'Vayaratz' means that Lavan ran to greet Eliezer after he saw the jewels, when he decided that Eliezer was rich. Or Hachayim argues on this answer, and asks how it is possible that the pasuk is interpreted according to Rashi; that explanation makes the Torah even more redundant than the p'shat. S'forno explains Vayaratz as Lavan ran out to see how rich Eliezer was, not to invite Eliezer into his home.
S'forno's explanation of the p'sukim describes Lavan as greedy. However, one can read these p'sukim to show something even darker than simple greed. The Torah writes that Lavan ran out before he saw Rivka, and heard what Eliezer had said to her, namely that he came from Avraham, Lavan's great uncle, to find a wife for Yizchak. From this one can assume that Lavan had only heard that a stranger came to the well, and begged Rivka for a drink. Lavan assumed that Eliezer was a wandering beggar who had come to beg for food and shelter. Lavan ran out to chase Eliezer out of the village, thinking that Eliezer would come to Lavan for money. However, when he saw all the jewelry, and heard that Eliezer was looking for a wife for Yitzchak, Lavan knew that Eliezer had a lot ofmoney, and Lavan could gain a lot of money out of the proposed marriage. Immediately, Lavan changed tactics. Instead of running out to throw Eliezer out of the village, Lavan approached Eliezer kindly, hoping to get some money out ofEliezer.
These pesukim show that Lavan was not just greedy, he was willing to even marry off his sister to a stranger for money. We should try to act differently than Lavan, and act with kindness and generosity.