Rav Brazil On Parshas Chayei Sarah


rav-shmuel-brazil-1The gemarah in Sanhedrin 111 and Baba Basra 16 both talk about Hahsem’s praise for Avraham Avinu on account of his unwavering faith when it came time to bury Sara. Avraham was previously promised the land of Eretz Yisrael and he made a legal acquisition on it. So it would have been understandable that he would question the need to buy the Meroahs Hamachpeila from Efron the owner at such an exorbitant unjust price with the highest quality of currency. Yet Avraham did not second guess Hashem but rather accepted his necessity to purchase the burial lot for his wife without question.However under closer scrutiny of the above gemarrahs, one will discover an obvious difficulty. The Beni Chais and Efron were willing to give the burial plot for free without any charge. It was Avraham who offered to pay for it. Being so, his purchasing the plot for the exorbitant price was of his own making and choosing. So from where does he deserve the praise for the challenge of emunah which he brought upon himself?

Rav Scheiner my chavrusah wanted to give an answer to this question using the innovative interpretation of Rav Eliezer Mintz from Lublin. If one is exacting in the wording used in the episode of Meoras Hamachpaila, one will be aware in the variations used. In passuk 4 Avraham asks the Benai Chais ואקברה מתי מלפני . In the response of the Benai Chais, they say קבר את מתיך and added the word את . Avraham in passuk 8 uses the extra word את . When Efron speaks to Avraham he retracts the word את and just says . קבר מתיך In passuk 13 the full term of את מתי is once again used. In the final response of Efron is passuk 15, the full term of את מתיך is again used?

Rav Eliezer from Mintz interprets the variations as follows. The term מתיך refers to one burial plot. The term את מתיך refers to a family plot since the word ess in more inclusive. Avraham when he first approached the Benei Ches, he requested from them only a burial plot for Sarah. The Benei Cheis were so generous that they offered him to bury “ess” his dead, offering him a family burial plot which was more than he requested. Avraham then asks from them that since they gave him such a generous offer that they should bring him before Efron for it is the Meoras Hamachpaila that he truly seeks and is willing to pay substantially for its purchase. As Efron hears the request for the entire cave and not just one burial plot, he says the burial plot is yours for free. However, more than that I cannot give you קבר מתיך. Avraham bows to the Benei Chais because they were the ones who offered to include a family plot as well. Avraham continues to request to bury את מתי a family burial ground and for this he is willing to pay full. Efron with the seduction of money dangling in front of his eyes, acquiesces and demands top dollar of 400 shekalim and them את מתך קבר . a’k.

Rav Scheiner with this interpretation now answers our original question. Efron only offered one burial plot for free but not a family burial plot. For this Avraham had to pay top price when in reality, all of Eretz Yisrael was promised to him. It is because he nevertheless did not question in any way the unfairness of his payment, he was praised by Hashem a’k.

The Medrash says that the names of the Benai Cheis are mentioned in this parsha ten times. It symbolizes that whoever aids a talmid chacham by making his purchase successful, it is tantamount to fulfilling the Ten Commandments. It is because the Benei Cheis were so generous to Avraham by offering him a family burial plot and not just one plot as Avraham originally asked for; they were instrumental in acquiring the Meoras Hamachpeila for a family plot from Efron. For once they generously and wholeheartedly agreed to the “ess”, the entire request and purchase for Meoras Hamachpaila was done specifically in front of their presence in order to exert peer pressure on Efron to securely sell it to Avraham.

We can now have a new insight in understanding the final passuk in this parsah of Meoras Hamachpaila ויקם השדה והמערה אשר בו לאברהם לאחזת קבר מאת בני חת . Our Chazal tell usהשדה ויקם and the field and cave acquired an new elevation by being acquired by a new ownership. The passuk says it was Benei Chais not Efron from whom Avraham purchased it. This is because they were instrumental in the purpose by offering to Avraham even the “ess” of their possessions. This is what the passuk is now stressing by its final words מאת בני חת which normally translates from the Benei Chais. However now it translates from the את of the Benei Chais. Since their generosity added an ess to the picture, it was that added generous “ess” that made the purchase happen.

Let us attempt to get a deeper insight on this matter why the Benei Chais so generously offered Avraham an “ess” burial plot. The answer comes in the form of what our Chazal tell us בדרך שאדם רוצה ללכת מולכים אותו that the way and path that a person takes, Hashem helps him get there. In the previous parsha which relates the story of Avraham’s hospitality on behalf of the three visiting angels in human form, the Torah relates that Avraham ran to the בקר the cattle. Our Chazal say that the slaughtered three cattle as enumerated בן בקר רך וטוב. One might ask would not one be sufficient for all three guests? Our Chazal say that Avraham’s ayin tova – good eye was so unusual and extraordinary, he wanted to give each guest his own tongue with relish. The Baal Haturim renders a supporting hint to the three bawkar by pointing to the three crowns on the letter kuf of the word bawkar.

On this word הבקר the Medrash comments that the same letters spell the word הקבר which means the grave. The Chazal continue to explain that Avraham was chasing one of the three calves until it stopped in front of a cave whose opening was partly uncovered. As Avraham entered the cave he saw a tremendous light and realized that it was the burial place of Adam and Chava. It was this cave of Machpaila which he later purchased from Efron. Incredible! Avraham discovered the cave by running to do a chesed in an optimum level, with a good eye and a generous heart, three calves for three people. This relationship of these two episodes of בקרand קבר send the common message that his generosity of giving was later repaid back to him through the efforts of Benei Chais for his behalf. Chesed for hachnasos orchim was repaid with the ultimate of chasadim burial of the deceased. Here we find that Avraham only asked for one burial plot and yet he was offered a family plot described in the word את which consisted of burial plots for three men, the avos [the wives are considered as a unit with their husbands]. The three crowns on the letter kuf hinting to the three בקר, transformed itself to the three קברים kevorim that were allotted to him with the efforts of the Benei Cheis.

We can see the קבר בקר relationship on another level as well. The passuk says that in preparing this calf וימהר לעשות אותו and he hurried to prepare it. Let us ask why did the Torah add the seemingly superfluous word oso when is could have abbreviated by saying וימהר לעשותו. From here we can learn that there was an additional two calves besides the ben habawkar that was really sufficient. For we have already explained that the word את comes to teach a greater inclusiveness by adding on an extra two. Here too in the act of chesed with the בקר, we have the message that because Avraham refused to settle for a minimum quality but rather opted to make it optimum by adding two more calves hinted in the word oso whose root is ess, he was therefore rewarded with the help from Hashem to finalize the deal with the Machpaila with no less than an ess, to secure the ultimate chesed with the dead.

And from the above we follow to the letters of רבקה. Rivka is born after the Akaidah. The shidduch suitability to Yitzchak was tested with an expectation of an incredible chesed especially for a three year old. I leave the rest of this thought up to your imagination to expand and develop….

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