Response to Ramban’s Question on Rashi

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Dear Rabbi Simon,
In the week’s Parashah (Chayei Sarah), Rashi on Gen. 24:8 (based on Kiddushin 61b) says that if the woman doesn’t want to come back with Eliezer he is absolved from the oath and can take a wife for Isaac from the daughters of Aner, Eshkol or Mamre.  Ramban says this can’t be the case as they were Canaanites. How does one defend Rashi?

Hi Alistair,
TY for drawing attention to one of Ramban’s strong questions on Rashi.
I would answer by saying that the two parts of the oath (not a local Canaanite girl; find him a bride from my homeland) are interdependent: if the woman you have found for him in Mesopotamia declines to return with you to Canaan, the oath is nullified—including the part about not marrying a Canaanite girl (see R. Eliyahu Mizrachi, d. Constantinople 1525). Note that according to Ohr ha-Hayyim (R. Hayyim ibn Attar, d. Jerusalem 1743), the main point of emphasising “no Canaanite girls for Isaac” is to disabuse Eliezer of any thoughts of Isaac for his own daughter—a hope which Abraham’s faithful domestic servant secretly harboured (see Rashi on 24:39). This was Avraham’s diplomatic way of communicating this “fuggedaboutit” message to Eliezer.
Keep those learned questions coming.
Best wishes
Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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