Compassionate Camels in Kabbalah

After the death of our ancestral mother Sarah, Abraham decides he would like his son Isaac to marry a relative. So Abraham sends his trusted servant Eliezer to their hometown. Eliezer travels with a caravan of 10 camels loaded with gifts.

At the town well, Eliezer prays for the ability to discern the right wife. He decides that any young woman who says, “Drink, and I will water your camels, too” will be the right one. Rebecca says the magic words, cares for the camels, and receives the gifts.

Eliezer goes down in Jewish tradition as a gifted matchmaker.

The Zohar invokes the spirit of Eliezer in a parable teaching how we might match spiritual qualities with the demands of everyday life (1:181b on Vayeshev).

The Zohar begins with a traditional story: at the time of the coming of the Mashiach, the bodies of all humans who ever lived will be reunited with their souls. The world will experience a great spiritual revitalization.

Even if you grant that this could happen, practically speaking, it seems impossible. How does God accomplish it? God recruits the gifted matchmaker Eliezer to match souls with newly resurrected bodies.

But Eliezer’s task is immense; what will he do first? He will do a metaphorical version of what he did when he matched Isaac and Rebecca. He will make use of a caravan of ten camels. These ten camels represent the ten sefirot, ten divine attributes of God that live inside us: a good head, wisdom, understanding, compassion, judgment, balance, endurance, gratitude, groundedness, and spirit.

Eliezer will match the first few bodies with souls that carry all ten attributes in abundance. These souls will be his helpers, as they use their skills to revitalize others.

How do these souls reach out to others? The answer lies in a Hebrew pun. The Hebrew word for “camel” is gamal. The Hebrew word for “acts of lovingkindness” is gemilut chasadim. The ten “camels” will infuse spirituality into the everyday world through acts of lovingkindness.

May this be a week of giving and receiving.

    1. Thanks so much for this comment!
      Zohar 1:181b (Vayeshev)
      In this mashal, Eliezer is Metatron. I don’t remember why I avoided that; probably because this was a 200 word shul newsletter piece and Metatron is a lot to explain.

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