Avraham says to Eliezer] “And I will have you swear by Hashem, God of heaven and God of earth, that you not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell.” (Gen. 24:3)
After the Akeida, Avraham resolved to seek a wife for Yitzchak. He sent Eliezer on the mission but told him that he did not want to take a wife for Yitzchak from the Canaanites, nor from the seven nations. Avraham did not trust Eliezer and therefore had him swear. The difficulty with this is that the previous verse mentions that Eliezer was in charge of all of Avraham’s assets. Avraham had complete trust in him. Why then does Avraham not trust him when it comes to finding his son a wife?
When it comes to spiritual matters, people generally trust one another. If one sees a man with a beard eating in a restaurant, he’ll eat there without further inquiry. If someone tells him, “I think it’s okay to do such and such,” he’ll do it in a second without asking further. However, when it comes to the mundane, people will research and seek many opinions before finalizing their purchase. Just because a car dealer says “Trust me…” it won’t satisfy them.
We see from Avraham the exact opposite. When it came to his money, he put Eliezer fully in charge and trusted all his decisions. However, in spiritual matters, where Yitzchak’s mate had to be the next Sarah – a woman who would not only be a wife but also a matriarch – for that he did not trust Eliezer.
Rabbi Yisrael Salanter was once traveling to a distant city. On the way, he passed a small town and decided to rest in one of the inns. The innkeeper, sensing that his guest was a devout Jew, approached Rabbi Salanter and asked: “Excuse me, but would you happen to be a shochet (a ritual slaughterer)? I have a cow in the barn that needs to be slaughtered. I usually go to our neighboring town to have it slaughtered. If you are a shochet then you can save me a big trip.”
Rabbi Salanter responded, “I am not a shochet.”
About an hour later, Rabbi Salanter approached the innkeeper and asked, “Perhaps you would be kind enough to lend me some money?”
“Give you a loan?” replied the innkeeper in surprise., “But I don’t even know you! How can I trust you to pay me back?”
“Listen to what you just said,” said Rabbi Salanter. “When it came to loaning me money – even a small amount – you would not trust me as I am a stranger to you. Yet when you wanted to slaughter your cow, you were prepared to rely on me though you have absolutely no idea who I am! Shechita (kosher slaughter) involves many intricate Jewish laws. Why were you so sure that I possess enough fear of heaven to be a proper shochet..