Twenty/twenty vision.

We have all heard and uttered the phrase “hindsight is twenty/twenty.” Seemingly, if we could only travel into the future, we would be able to look back at the past with perfect clarity. Confusion, and the fear of the unknown would be replaced with confidence and clarity.  

But is this clarity really as elusive as we think? We have yet to invent the time machine; is there perhaps another way to achieve clarity of vision? This week’s parshah hints at such a tool, one which allows one to achieve the benefits of hindsight, sans the time machine.  

There are two stories in this parshah which seem overly verbose. One, the purchase of the cave of Machpelah for the burial of Sarah. Granted, Avraham needed a piece of land to bury Sarah, but why all the details? Even more puzzling is the story of Eliezer. As the trusted servant of Avraham, he is given the sacred mission of finding a wife for Yitzchak. The Torah gives us a great amount of detail of his journey, not once but twice. 

Let us begin with the Sarah’s burial. The word Machpelah means two-fold. The Midrash relates that one who is buried in this cave, is guaranteed a double portion of reward.  

The journey is the reward.

Rabbi Moshe Shapiro explained that ‘double’ isn’t merely another way of saying two. Two items may be exactly the same, but each is still a distinct entity. The term double, however, refers to a repeat of an object or a concept. The double reward is for those that lived their lives in the here-and-now, in perfect harmony with the world-to-come.  

Hashem created two worlds. This world – the world of work – and the world-to-come – the world of reward. Typically, we see these two worlds as separate distinct realities. This world is the journey, and the world-to-come the destination.

Sarah’s greatness allowed her to experience the journey as the reward. She was completely focused on fulfilling the will of her creator. So much so, that the privilege of carrying out the will of Hashem was reward enough. All of Sarah’s years were equally good (Rashi); as each day was a new, equally good, opportunity to serve her Father in heaven.  

Let us now turn our attention to Eliezer. The Torah first narrates the story of his journey as it unfolds. Later, upon meeting Rivkah’s family, he repeats the story. Why did the Torah see fit to write it a second time? The Torah is not merely an historical document, rather, every word is meant to teach us something profound. 

The answer is that Eliezer, in his greatness, was able to submit his entire being to carrying out the will of his master Avraham. Since he had no personal biases holding him back, he saw the entire story in retrospect just as he saw it unfold. The Torah writes out Eliezer’s words twice, to show us that he experienced and remembered the story exactly the same way.  

We too are journeying through life, entrusted with a sacred mission by our Father in heaven. Typically, personal biases, laziness, anxiety and a slew of other factors cloud our vision. In retrospect, when we are no longer anxious, tired or hungry, we can finally see clearly – twenty/twenty vision. The more we can focus on fulfilling the will of Hashem, the less those biases and anxieties will blur our vision, allowing us to see clearly once again.  

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