subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues



Ch. 23, v. 18: "L'Avrohom l'mikneh l'einei vnei Cheis" - Since Avrohom was purchasing the burial plot from Efron, why do we find the involvement of the bnei Cheis numerous times throughout this transaction? From the words "V'osiso ha'yoshor v'hatov" (Dvorim 6:18) we derive an halacha (B.M. 108a, Ch.M. 175:7) that when one offers a parcel of land for sale, it must first be offered to those who own an adjacent parcel of land, since it would be advantageous to own two abutting properties and combine them into one. Since the verse says "V'Efron yosheiv b'soch bnei Cheis" (23:10), Efron's parcel of land was situated in the middle of others belonging to the bnei Cheis, Avrohom made sure that they agreed to forego their priority to purchase Efron's field before he proceeded. (Ponis Yofos)

There is one verse in this story which does not seem clarified by this insight. The final verse (20) of this incident says "Va'yokom haso'deh v'ham'oroh ...... mei'eis bnei Cheis." First of all, why repeat this? Secondly, it seems as if there was an actual transaction between the bnei Cheis and Avrohom regarding this field and the cave. Perhaps, since it was pointed out that the field was surrounded by other fields belonging to bnei Cheis, Avrohom had a dilemma. Even if he were to purchase Efron's field he would have no ingress to his field. We can say that Avrohom also purchased the right to enter the field from the public roadway, traversing fields of others. This would explain why verse 20 adds "la'achuzas ko'ver." As well, in verse 9 where Avrohom was discussing the purchase of the field with the bnei Cheis he also stressed "B'SOCH'CHEM la'achuzas ko'ver." Since the field was in the middle of their fields he feared that he would be denied access to his field. He wanted not only to bury Soroh and have access this one time, but also wanted to purchase the right to always have access for future burials, for the field to be used as a family burial plot, "achuzas ko'ver."

Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Brisker answers these questions with a different insight. Avrohom was quite concerned to not only have Soroh buried in a plot that belonged to his family for the time being, but also wanted the field to remain his families forever and never be requisitioned by the municipality. This is sometimes done when roads need to be widened or shopping centres need to be built, sometimes specifically on hallowed Jewish burial grounds, as we have seen of late R"l. To insure against this, Avrohom had to not only buy the field from the present owner, but also negotiate with the municipal leaders, namely the bnei Cheis. He actually purchased the right to retain his property forever and never have the community or any government agency expropriate the land for their needs. This explains why we find that Avrohom purchased the land from Efron (v. 12), then buried Soroh (v. 19), and only afterwards did he purchase the permanent ownership from the bnei Cheis (v. 20). His first concern was to own the land and immediately bury Soroh. Only afterwards did he attend to the long-term purchase from the bnei Cheis.

Ch. 23, v. 18 "L'einei v'nei Cheis" - Literally translated this means "to the eyes of the bnei Cheis." Although the previous offerings explain the need for the involvement of the bnei Cheis in this transaction, "LIFNEI bnei Cheis" would have been the preferred wording. This is explained by the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh (The Meshech Chochmoh says the identical thing). Although ownership of a field can be transacted through "kesef, shtar, o chazokoh," - financial payment, a document, or an act showing ownership, as is recorded in Ch.M. #190, nevertheless when a Jew buys from or sells property to a non-Jew, only the combination of payment and a document complete the transaction according to the opinion of Rav Hai Gaon (mentioned in the Biur haGR"A #194 on Ch.M. #190). If only a payment was made to the non-Jew an anomaly takes place. The property is no longer the non-Jew's, but it is not yet in the possession of the Jew. At the point when Avrohom had only given 400 shkolim for the field it was not yet his by Torah law. However the bnei Cheis viewed it as if he had acquired the land, thus the term "l'einei bnei Cheis," in their eyes it belonged to Avrohom. When he afterwards buried Soroh in the M'oras Hamachpeiloh, he did an act of ownership and at that point the field truly came into his possession. This is why the Torah reiterates in verse 20 that the field and the cave came into Avrohom's possession, leaving out the words "l'einei bnei Cheis" this time.

Ch. 24, v.3: "Lo sikach ishoh livni mibnos haC'naani," - Similarly Yitzchok tells Yaakov, (28:6) "Lo sikach ishoh mibnos Canaan." Why were our Ovos strongly against taking a Canaanite woman? The families that they pursued and eventually married into were also idol-worshipper.

1) Although B'suel's family worshipped idols, Avrohom felt that they pursued truth and given the exposure to the true Hashem, they would come around. (Moshav Z'keinim)

2) Another answer can be gleaned from the words of the Moshav Z'keinim in verse 50. Lovon and B'su'eil respond "Mei'Hashem yotzo hadovor." They resoundingly agree to the match, saying that it was made in heaven. The Moshav Z'keinim asks, "Why did they agree to give their daughter/sister as a wife for Yitzchok, knowing full well that Yitzchok espoused the theology of belief in one Hashem, while they were idol worshippers?" He answers that they truly believed in Hashem and only had idols (trofim) for the purpose of gathering information about what the future holds. (This might be somewhat similar to one who basically keeps Torah and mitzvos, but makes use of undesirable mediums to keep him abreast of the news, what has happened and what will likely happen.) Since they truly believed in Hashem, the question is answered, as it was based on an incorrect premise, that they also believed in false gods.

3) The Droshos hoRan, drush #5 answers that the Canaanites had terrible character traits. This was less desirable to our Ovos than idol worship because there are sins that make a negative impression on soul and body, and there are those that affect the soul only. Idol worship, albeit a terrible sin, affects the soul only and does not necessarily pass on to other family members. The sins which make a negative impression on the body are bad character traits, e.g. hatred, jealousy, cruelty, slander, etc., and readily pass on to family members. The Kli Yokor says exactly the same, not aware that the Ran had already said this.

4) Another answer might be that although the family of B'su'eil and Lovon was no more appealing than those of the Canaanites, there was an advantage to marry into Lovon's family which hailed from Aram Naharayim. Avrohom stipulated that the new couple would have to live with him in Canaan. Thus they would not live away from Avrohom under the poisonous influence of B'su'eil and Lovon. Had Yitzchok married a girl from Canaan, the locals, even if Yitzchok would set up his home with Avrohom, out of familial duty he would have to spend time with his wife's family which was right there in Canaan.

Ch. 24, v. 29: "Va'yorotz Lovon." - Rashi says that he placed his eyes onto the money Eliezer brought. Literally "Nosan einov bim'mono" means that he gave away his eyes for his money. The gemara Brochos 43b says that when one runs, "p'sioh gasoh," he loses one five-hundredth of the glow of his eye sight. Thus we can literally say that Lovon "gave away" his eye-sight for money. (Pninim Y'korim)

Ch. 24, v. 39 "Ulai lo seileich ho'ishoh acharoi" - The M.R. 59:9 points out that the word "ulai" is spelled defectively, Alef-Lamed-Yud, lacking a Vov between the Alef and Lamed. This allows for this word to be read "eilai," to me. This is a hint at Eliezer's personal agenda. He hoped that he would not find a suitable match for Yitzchok and his own daughter would then be wed to Yitzchok. Avrohom responded that since Eliezer was a descendant of Canaan, and Canaan was cursed by Noach (Breishis 9:25), it was inappropriate for a cursed person to join in marriage with a blessed (Breishis 12:2) person. Why is this pointed out here in the narrative of Eliezer to the prospective m'chutonim, and not earlier in verse 5 where he said these words to Avrohom and have the word "eilai" is there spelled incomplete?

1) Earlier he realized that he had no chance of becoming Avrohom's m'chuton since it was inappropriate for a cursed person to join in marriage with a blessed person as mentioned above. However, when he pursued a marriage partner for Yitzchok with full commitment and devotion, he lost the status of "orur," cursed, and became a "blessed" person, as indicated by the words "Bo b'ruch Hashem" in verse 31. (Moshav Z'keinim)

It seems that this answer relies upon the comment of the Holy Zohar (Bmidbar page 158) who says that the two words "b'ruch Hashem" were said by Hashem. If they were said by Lovon, as the simple flow of the verse indicates, there would be no reason for Eliezer to think that he had become blessed just because Lovon expressed these words.

2) He was truly interested in carrying out his mission and to whet the appetite of Lovon et al and have them come to a quick positive conclusion, he mentioned that he was also interested in having Yitzchok as a son-in-law. (Maharz"u on M.R. 59:9)

3) When Eliezer harboured the hope of his daughter becoming the wife of Yitzchok he deluded himself into thinking that his intentions were totally altruistic, for the benefit of Avrohom and Yitzchok only. It was only after he saw a clear sign from heaven that Rivkoh would become Yitzchok's wife and there was no hope of Eliezer's daughter becoming Yitzchok's wife that he realize he had a personal interest. (The Holy Admor of Kotzk in Ohel Torah)

4) When in the presence of the holy personage of Avrohom, Eliezer did not realize that he had a personal agenda. Only after leaving the sphere of sanctity of Avrohom did he realize that he was biased towards having his own daughter become Yitzchok's wife.

5) Perhaps Eliezer wanted to stress that he was fulfilling his mission to the greatest degree, casting aside even his own personal desires, thus instilling a great feeling of trust in the prospective m'chutonim.

24, v. 39 "Lo seileich" - Why earlier when Eliezer mentioned this concern to Avrohom (verse 5) did he express himself differently saying, "ulai lo SOVEH ho'ishoh lo'leches acharoy?" Possibly, he did not want to verbalize the possibility that the girl would NOT WANT to follow him, as he described Avrohom's home and Yitzchok in such glowing terms that this would almost be an impossibility. The only concern would be that she would NOT GO because of an outside factor, such as the reluctance on the part of her family members, which was indeed a concern (verse 55). When in the presence of Avrohom, Eliezer said "ulai lo SOVEH," - possibly she will NOT WANT, telling it as it is, as perhaps she might not WANT TO go.

Ch. 24, v. 63: "Va'yeitzei Yitzchok losuach baso'deh - The Paanei'ach Rozo translates "losuach" as "to plant vegetation and trees," as in Breishis 2:5 "siach haso'deh."

Ch. 24, v. 65: "Vatomer el ho'eved 'Mi ho'ish halo'zeh'" - Why did Rivkoh ask, "Who is this man?" Obviously she saw many other people during her trip as well. The Moshav Z'keinim and the Paanei'ach Rozo answer in the name of the medrash that she paid special attention to Yitzchok because he was walking in an upside down position, his head on the ground and his feet in the air. This was because he had come from a two year recuperation period in Gan Eden (See Targum Yonoson ben Uziel) to recover from what should have been a fatal laceration to his throat, inflicted by his father at the Akeidoh (See Yalkut Dovid on parshas Toldos). We find a similar phenomenon in the Prophet Shmuel 1:28:13, "Ro'isi elohim olim min ho'oretz." The Paanei'ach Rozo adds that we have an allusion to Yitzchok's coming from Gan Eden in verse 62 which begins with "V'Yitzchok boh," which has the same numerical value as "miGan Eden." (The TWO YEAR recuperation period does not match with the Seder Olom and Tosfos Y'vomos 61b who posit that Rivkoh was three years old when she was married to Yitzchok, if we also say that she was born at the time of the Akeidoh, as per the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh mentioned in parshas Va'yeiro.) According to the above-mentioned medrash that Yitzchok sustained what should have been a fatal laceration and survived only by being in the Gan Eden I.C. unit, it is well understood why we end the blessing of "Atoh GIBOR," called the blessing of "g'vuroh," corresponding to Yitzchok whose dominant character trait is portrayed as "g'vuroh," with the words "m'cha'yei ha'meisim," since Yitzchok was brought back from the dead, meaning that by the rules of nature he should have succumbed to his wound. (Rozo d'Meir)

Last week's question: Ch. 18, v. 31: "Ho'alti" - Rashi tells us the translation of this word. I do not know why Rashi did not do this earlier in verse 27 instead, where the exact same word "ho'alti" appears. ANSWER: I have been directed to the Sifsei Chachomim on this verse who raises this question. He answers that in verse 27 Rashi held that "ho'alti" means "I have begun," which is its normal interpretation, thus eliciting no comment from Rashi. In our verse "ho'alti" cannot mean "I have begun," as Avrohom had begun negotiating earlier. However, Targum Onkeles translates "ho'alti" the same in both verses, "sho'reisi." If Rashi translates one differently from the other, he should have pointed out that Targum Onkeles differs, as Rashi points out throughout his commentary on the Torah, and even a few times in parshas Va'yeiro. I have found a print of the Chumash that has these words of Rashi on verse 27 rather than on verse 31, thus aligning him with Targum Onkeles.



Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel