Chayei Sara: We Will Not Cave In

This land is ours, legally, Biblically and morally, paid for by money but also in blood.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Arutz 7

The debate is not a new one, it has raged on for millennia: To whom does the Land of Israel truly belong? Is it eternally
the inheritance of the Jewish People? Did we acquire it unlawfully, or "lose it" when we sinned & were exiled from the land?

Our Sedra records the first official purchase by Jews of land in Israel, when Avraham buys Chevron's Cave of Machpela.

But questions abound:

- Why does Avraham refer to himself as "an immigrant and a resident - Ger V'Toshav," when he meets the owners?

- Why, at first, is Avraham offered a burial plot at little or no charge by the townsfolk, but in the end pays an exorbitant sum
(400 silver pieces, in "international currency" - the equivalent today of a million dollars!).

- And why is the cave called "machpela," from the word kaful, double?

The first offer of B'nei Chet (an apt moniker if spelled in English!) to Avraham is that he may choose any burial place "among the
choicest of OUR plots." In other words, though Sarah may be buried there, the actual land would remain under the
ownership of the Chittim. This Avraham cannot accept.

He describes himself as a "ger, a stranger," & so he is fully prepared to pay for the land; but he makes it clear to them that he is also "a toshav, a resident," & that, in reality, the land is his, because he has been promised it by no less than the Creator of the Universe.

Avraham uses international currency (much like the gold standard) in order to send the message that this sale is not about private ownership, but rather an act of national ownership, akin to a foreign embassy in another country; the soil of that embassy is considered sovereign land. He also wants to preclude anyone from any nation coming in the future & claiming that the purchase was not valid because it was paid in a currency no longer in use.

According to Chazal (the Paneach Raza) Avraham bought a cubit of land for each of the 600,000 Jews who left Egypt. This symbolically indicates that every Jew, in every generation, is the rightful owner of this land.

Why "Machpela?" The common explanation is that 4 "doubles" or couples are buried here: Adam & Chava, Avraham & Sara, Yitzchak & Rivka, Yakov & Leah. But the deeper meaning - & one that needs to be made clear to our own people & trumpeted before the world at every opportunity - is that Ma'arat HaMachpela (& Israel as a whole!) is not just the place where our Biblical heroes are interred. It is "double" that: It symbolizes our ownership of this entire Land - by Divine decree as well as by legal right.

As to the nagging question - "If this land is indeed ours, then why do we continue to pay such a high price to keep
it?" - let us just say that this last, perhaps greatest test of Avraham, never really ends.