Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Man and the Servant

In our Mishna (Nedarim 89a), when it says, “This is the rule” (once she enters into her own jurisdiction for even one moment, the husband cannot revoke her vows), it is coming to include a case where the father gave her over to the husband’s agents, or the father’s agents gave her over to the husband’s agents. From this point and on, the husband may not revoke any of his wife’s prior vows.

For once she was given over to them, her father no longer has any jurisdiction over her, because this handing over is regarded like nisuin. The husband may revoke nedarim that she makes from this time on, but with respect to her prior nedarim, he may not revoke them. He cannot revoke them in conjunction with her father either, because she has left her father’s jurisdiction, and he no longer has any rights over her.

Based upon this principle, the Pardes Yosef explains the following verse [Breishis 24:61]: And Rivkah and her maidens arose and rode on the camels, and they followed the man; and the servant took Rivkah and left. Why was Eliezer first referred to as “the man,” and afterwards, “the servant”?

We can answer as follows: As long as Rivkah was under the jurisdiction of her father, although Eliezer was the servant of Yitzchak, because Avraham gave over all his possessions to him, nevertheless, he was not the servant of Rivkah. Therefore, Eliezer (with respect to Rivkah) was called, “the man.” However, after Rivkah’s maidens, who were Lavan’s agents, handed her over to Eliezer, she entered into the jurisdiction of Yitzchak, for her father gave her over to the husband’s agent (Eliezer). Once she entered into her husband’s authority, Eliezer now became her servant, and therefore, the Torah refers to him as “the servant.”