תש”ף פ’ חיי שרה
Volume 31, Issue 5
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
ארץ ארבע מאת שקל כסף
“Land worth four hundred silver shekels…” (23:15)
Ephron was aware of the Divine announcement which promised possession of the land of Cana’an to Avraham’s descendants after 400 years. This period corresponds to eight jubilee cycles. Now the price of redemption of inherited land was set at fifty shekels of silver per jubilee period (Vayikra 27:16; Rashi). Hence Ephron asked Avraham for 400 shekels in payment of his field. He is even more specific: ביני ובינך , this price is calculated for the period between me (i.e., when the field belongs to me) and you (when it will become yours through the Divine promise.) Hence if you do not buy it, מה היא , what does it matter? It will ultimately be yours in any case. (Yismach Moshe)
וישמע אברהם אל עפרון וישקל אברהם לעפרן את הכסף
“Avraham heeded Ephron and Avraham weighed out for Ephron the silver…” (23:16)
The name עפרון occurs twice in this verse. The first time it is spelled in its full form, with a vav; by contrast, the second time, in connection with the payment of 400 shekels, it is spelled in the abbreviated form, without a vav. Baal Haturim notes a significant gematria. עפרן , in the abbreviated form, has a numerical value of 400, the exact amount he received as payment for the field of Me’aras Hamachpelah. (Vedebarta Bam)
והיה הנערה אשר אמר אליה הטי נט כדך ואשתה ואמרה שתה וגם לגמליך אשקה
“Let it be that the maiden to whom I shall say, ‘Please tip over your jug so that I may drink’, and replies ‘drink, and I will even water your camels.’” (24:14)
QUESTION: Why did Eliezer test her in this way?
ANSWER: Eliezer wanted to verify two basic things about the girl. 1) Was she good-natured? 2) Was she bright and resourceful in a different situation?
Therefore, Eliezer asked her to tilt her jug so that he could drink from the jug itself. If she was good-natured, she would have pity on a thirsty man and let him drink. However, he was curious to see what she would do with the leftover water. If she would take it home or drink it herself, she would appear to be foolish because Eliezer was a stranger and might have been sick, contaminating
the water. On the other hand, if she would spill it out on the ground, this would be disrespectful to Eliezer.
When Eliezer saw that after letting him drink, Rivkah took the remainder of the jug and gave it to the camels, he knew that not only was she good-natured, but also bright and of refined character. (Beit HaLevi)
ויאמר בוא…למה תעמוד בחוץ ואנכי פניתי הבית
“And (Lavan) said, ‘come…why stand outside when I have cleaned out the house…’” (24:31)
Rashi quotes the midrashic view that Lavan had cleaned out all the idols from his house. What textual support is there for this idea?
When Eliezer inquired of Rivkah, “…in your father’s house, is there room for us to lodge?” (24:23), he was really asking whether the house was appropriate for Avraham’s representative, who would not enter a house of idolatry. Hence Rivkah’s answer: there was “room to lodge” (24:25), but not “room for you.” This also explains why she ran home instead of telling Eliezer, “Please follow me” – she needed time to prepare the house.
Thus, when Lavan said, “why stand outside when I have cleaned the house?”, he was informing Eliezer that the obstacle to his entry had been removed. And Lavan knew of the problem because Rivkah had told her family “these things” (24:28). (Kehillas Yitzchak)
ותקם רבקה ונערתיה…ותלכנה אחרי האיש ויקח העבד את רבקה וילך
“And Rivkah and her maidens arose…and they went after the man, and the slave took Rivkah and he went…” (24:61)
In the first half of this verse, Eliezer is identified as “the man,” while in the second half he is “the slave.” Why does the form of reference change in mid-verse?
Rabbi Shlomo Kluger explains according to the statement of the Talmud (Ketubot 48b) that a daughter who is still a minor is considered within the dominion of her father until she is transferred to the emissaries of her future husband. As long as Rivkah was not yet entrusted to Eliezer, Yitzchak’s emissary, for the return journey to Cana’an, she was still considered part of her father’s household, and Eliezer was only “the man” to her. Once entrusted to Eliezer, though, she passed into the dominion of Yitzchak. From that point on, Eliezer, who was Yitzchak’s slave, became her slave as well. Therefore, when he “took Rivkah,” Eliezer is referred to as “the slave.” (Torah Anthology)
תש”ף פ’ חיי שרה