פ’ חיי שרה תשע”ט
Volume 26, 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 Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
ויבא אברהם לספד לשרה ולבכתה
“Avraham came to eulogize and weep for her…” (23:2)
QUESTION: Why is the word “ולבכתה” – “and weep for her” written with a small “כ”?
ANSWER: Avraham in addition to having a son, Yitzchak, also had a daughter named “Bakol” (Bava Batra 16b). When Avraham went with Yitzchak to Mount Moriah, she remained home with her mother. When Sarah died upon hearing about Yitzchak and the Akeidah, her daughter, Bakol also died.
The word “ולבכתה” hints to the above. Without the “כ” it is “ולבתה” (and for her daughter) and with the “כ” it is “ולבכתבה” which means to “cry over her.” Avraham did both: He wept for Sarah and also for her daughter who died at the same time. (Zichron Yisrael)
ויקם שדה עפרון…לאברהם למקנה
“And Ehpron’s field…was confirmed as Avraham’s as a purchase…” (23:17-18)
The last verses of the chapter contain nothing other than an exact description of the location of the cave of Machpelah and a reminder that Avraham and his offspring would have perpetual title to it. The same insistence and the same wealth of detail recur at the end of Bereishit when Yaakov gives his children final instructions for his burial in the Holy Land (49:29-32).
There are three places, say our Sages, where the peoples of the world cannot contest our title to property. These are the cave of Machpelah, the Temple site, and Yosef’s tomb – the first in view of the precise particulars given and repeated here, the second by virtue of the purchase contract made by Dovid mentioned explicitly in Divrei Hayamim I (21:24-25), and the third because of the legal acquisition reported by the Torah: “He bought the parcel of land upon which he pitched his tent from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred kesitahs (Bereishit 33:19). This place was called Shechem, and here Yosef was buried, as Rashi points out (48:22).
However, no matter what precautions the most eminent Biblical figures took in anticipation of the future vicissitudes of history, no other holy places gave rise to as many conflicts, disputes, and court cases as these three places. Jewry’s destiny would have it that for long centuries these sites would be in foreign and enemy hands. Even today, these three sites remain under Arab authority, though nominally in Jewish hands. (The Call of the Torah)
ויאמר לא אכל עד אם דברתי דברי ויאמר אנכי
“But he said I will not eat until I have spoken my piece. And he said, ‘Speak.’” (24:33)
An obvious question is: Why did Eliezer refuse to eat the food Rivkah’s parents offered before explaining the purpose of his trip?
There is a custom among Jews for a man to send gifts to his betrothed. If subsequently they do not marry, the presents are returned. However, she does not have to return the gifts if the man ate in her house (Rama, Even HaEzer 50:3).
Upon meeting Rivkah, Eliezer was so confident that she was the one destined to be Yitzchak’s wife that in his role as Yitzchak’s agent he gave her the betrothal gifts immediately (24:22). However, he now had second thoughts, and was concerned that Rivkah’s parents might not agree to the match. Should that happen, and he had eaten in their home, then he would not be able to retrieve the gifts. Therefore, he declined to eat until he first informed them of the purpose of his journey and was assured by Rivkah and her parents that she would marry Yitzchak. (Pardes Yosef)
ויתן אברהם את כל אשר לו ליצחק
“Avraham gave all that he had to Yitzchak.” (25:5)
One time, the descendants of Yishmael and the descendants of Keturah came to make a claim against the Jews before Alexander the Great of Macedon. They argued that the Land of Canaan should belong to all the descendants of Avraham, not only to the Jews. They pointed out that just as the Jews are described by the Torah as being the children of Avraham, it also refers to Yishmael as the son of Avraham. Geviha ben Pesisa, an ordinary Jew, disproved their claim. “The very Torah that you are quoting says: Avraham gave all that he had to Yitzchak. But to the concubine-children who were Avraham’s, Avraham gave gifts; then he sent them away from Yitzchak his son, while he was still alive. Avraham gave Yishmael and the sons of Keturah only ‘presents,’ and everything else to Yitzchak. It is obvious, then, that Yishmael and Keturah have no share in Eretz Yisrael.” (Sanhedrin 91a)
“A double cave…” (25:9)
Rav and Shmuel disagreed about how this cave was arranged. One said that it was made up of two rooms: an inner room and an outer room. The other said that it was made up of two levels, one on top of the other. According to the one who said it had two levels, then it is clear as to why it was called the Cave of Machpelah, because machpelah means double, and it had a double ceiling, one for each level. But if it was simply an inner and outer room, in what way was it “doubled”? It was called “doubled” because of the many couples that were buried there: Adam and Chava, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzchak and Rivkah, and Yaakov and Leah. (Eruvin 53a)
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