Two Types of Gentiles by Eric Gutman


            In Parshat Chayei Sarah, we see much business being done.  First, Avraham buys the Maarat Hamachpela from Ephron, and then the transaction of "acquiring" Rivka as a wife for Yitzchak (as it was in those days) goes through.  In both case, at least one gentile was involved; for our concern Ephron in the first and Eliezer in the second.

            In the first, Ephron says a veiled message that was sure to be understood by Avraham (as Ephron knew), demanding a very high price for the cave.  He then forces Avraham to buy the whole field by making it clear that the cave and the field are a package deal.  But for Ephron, that is not enough.  He claims the land and the cave are worth 004 Silver Shekels, which is enough to purchase a tremendous estate, and then tries to reiterate by saying "...004 silver Shekels, between you and I, what is it?".  By saying "between you and I" he tries to make it seem as if they are good friends so Avraham paying a high price is just a token of his friendship towards Ephron (Rashi).  From his start to finish, Ephron connives Avraham, taking advantage of the latter's righteousness and good will.

            Later on in the Parsha, Eliezer, a gentile acquires Rivka as a wife for Yitzchak.  However, his actions are quite different than those of Ephron.  We see that he is God fearing, as he prays to God to help him in his task.  Not only that, but God answers his prayers immediately, as its written "and I was not yet finished meditating..." (Rashi).  This shows us that God was pleased with him a person.  Furthermore, the test that Eliezer created was to find a righteous woman, so apparently Eliezer values righteousness.  Finally, there were so many presents and gifts, that Eliezer could have easily sold some on his way, kept the profits for himself, and nobody would have noticed.  He was righteous, and not money hungry like Ephron.

            So here we see two gentiles, who are complete opposites.  One is wicked, one is righteous.  This shows us that just because some gentiles might be wicked, and their ways of life perverted, many others are great people, with high morals and values.  We should never judge a person by what he is, whether a Jew or a gentile, but rather by who they are.  We should not exclude a person from the community or look down on them just because he is different.  Instead, we should try to be at least as righteous as they, for  if they could to it without the Torah, certainly we, who received the Torah, can.  And once we reach that goal, may we go on to achieve greatness, and merit the coming of Mashiach.

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