Parshat Chayei Sarah: Avraham Avinu (Abraham) Becomes A Religious Zionist

posted in: English Divrei Torah | 0

Breishit / Genesis Chapter 23 as translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (“The Living Torah”)

1 Sarah had lived to be* 127 years old. [These were] the years of Sarah’s life. 2 Sarah died in Kiryath Arba,* also known as Hebron* in the land of Canaan. Abraham came to eulogize Sarah and to weep for her.

3 Abraham rose from beside his dead, and he spoke to the children of Heth.* 4 “I am an immigrant and a resident among you,” he said. “Sell me property for a burial place with you so that I can bury my dead, [and not have her here] right in front of me.”

5 The children of Heth replied to Abraham, saying to him, 6 “Listen to us, Sir. You are a prince of God in our midst. Take our best burial site* to bury your dead. No one among us will deny you his burial site to bury your dead.”

7 Abraham rose, and he bowed down to the local people* the children of Heth. 8 He spoke to them and said, “If you really want to help me bury my dead and [put her out of] my presence, listen to me, and speak up for me to Ephron* son of Tzohar. 9 Let him sell me the Makhpelah Cave,* which belongs to him, at the edge of his field. Let him sell it to me in your presence for its full price, as a burial property.”

10 Ephron was then sitting among the children of Heth. Ephron the Hittite replied to Abraham in the presence of the children of Heth, so that all who came to the city gate could hear. 11 “No, my lord,” he said.” “Listen to me. I have already given you the field. I have [also] given you the cave that is
there. Here, in the presence of my countrymen, I have given it to you. Bury your dead.”

12 Abraham bowed down before the local people. 13 He spoke to Ephron so that all the local people could hear. “If you will only listen to me,” he said.
“I am giving you the money for the field. Take it from me, and I will bury my
dead there.”

14 Ephron replied to Abraham, saying to him, 15 “My lord, listen to me. What’s 400 silver shekels* worth of land between you and me? Bury your dead.”

16 Abraham understood what Ephron meant. He weighed out for Ephron the silver that had been mentioned in the presence of the children of Heth, 400 shekels in negotiable currency.

17 Ephron’s field in Makhpelah adjoining Mamre* thus became [Abraham’s] uncontested property. [This included] the field, its cave, and every tree within its circumference. 18 It was Abraham’s purchase with all the children of Heth who came to the city gate as eyewitnesses. 19 Abraham then buried his wife Sarah in the cave of Makhpelah Field, which adjoins Mamre (also known as Hebron), in the land of Canaan.

20 This is how the field and its cave became the uncontested property of Abraham as a burial site, purchased from the children of Heth.

Excerpt from Rabbi Kook Did Not Subscribe to Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef’s “Land for Peace” Ideology Regarding the Temple Mount. The Grandson of Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Shlomo Raanan HY”D Sets the Record Straight.

Rabbi Avraham Y. Kook
Rabbi Avraham Y. Kook

Winning the War to Conquer the Land of Israel Overrides the Commandment of Saving Lives

Former Chief Rabbi of British Mandate Palestine, Rabbi Avraham Kook pointed out (Chazon HaGeula p. 222) that winning a War to Conquer the Land of Israel takes precedence even if it means endangering Jews for the sake of victory.

Even for the sake of an Optional War, the Torah recognizes there might be war casualties as part of the price of victory.
Dvarim/Deuteronomy 20:7 ‘Is there any man among you who has betrothed a woman and not married her? Let him go home, so that he not die in war and have another man marry her.’

See also the book of Shoftim/Judges 20:39 as a backup to this concept.

The principle that winning the war to conquer the land of Israel overrides the commandment of saving lives, also explains one of the motivations of my rabbis, to oppose the various “Land for Peace” deals including Trump’s “Deal of the Century” and it also explains why they rejected the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. I am not saying this is the only reason, just one of the reasons.

My rabbis further added that when Rabbi Kook wrote Chazon Haguela, there was a realistic chance for gaining more land for the Jewish people in Israel by the purchase of land. Therefore Rabbi Kook supported that activity. However, during that period of time Rabbi Kook did not believe, there was a realistic chance for a Jewish army to take the land of Israel by force. That is why he did not encourage the latter option in that period.

23:1 Sarah had lived . . . Literally, “The life of Sarah was . . .”

23:2 Kiryath Arba. See 35:27. This was the original name for Hebron; see Joshua 14:15, Judges 1:10. Also see Joshua 15:54, 20:7. The name Kiryath Arba literally means “City of the Four,” or “City of Arba.”

23:3 children of Heth. That is, the Hittites. See note on 10:15.

23:6 burial site. Or grave, tomb, or cemetery.

23:7 local people. Literally, “the people of the land.”

23:8 Ephron. Significantly, there is a Mount Ephron some 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:9, 2 Chronicles 13:19).

23:9 Makhpelah Cave. Literally, “Doubler Cave.” It was so named because it had two levels ( Targum; Eruvin 53a; Rashi). The name also applied to the entire area; below 23:17,19. According to tradition, Adam and Eve had been buried there ( Yerushalmi, Taanith 4:2). It can still be visited today.

23:15 shekels. A shekel was a unit of weight, equal to 22.8 grams or 0.8 ounces. A silver shekel was therefore a little smaller than a silver dollar, and worth around $1.00. Abraham therefore paid 20 pounds of silver, or about $400 for the cave. Considering land values at the time, this was highly excessive. Thus, for example, King Omri paid only 6000 shekels for the entire territory of Samaria (1 Kings 16:25), and Jeremiah paid only 17 shekels for a property that was at least as large as Makhpelah Field (Jeremiah 32 :g). For comparison, according to the Hammurabi Code of that time, a year’s wage for a working man was between six and eight shekels.

23:17 adjoining Mamre (Chizzkuni). See above, 13:18. Josephus notes that the “Tree of Mamre” is approximately one half mile (6 furlongs) from Hebron proper {Wan 4:9:7).