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?
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.
Rabbi Rashi Simon