A while back, a newspaper,
interviewed a prominent member
of a Jewish community on his
The interviewer said:
“Most people, when they reach
their 92nd birthday,
start thinking about slowing down.
You seem to be speeding up.
Why is that?”
The Birthday “ Boy “ answered:
“When you get to 92,
you start seeing the door begin to close,
and I have so much to do before
the door closes that the older I get,
the harder I have to work.”
Something like that is the
impression we get of Abraham in
this week’s parsha.
his constant companion
throughout their journeys,
He is 137 years old.
We see him mourn Sarah’s death,
and then he moves into action.
He engages in an elaborate
negotiation to buy a plot of land in
which to bury her.
And it is not a simple task.
Abraham makes it clear that he is
determined to buy land.
In the event,
he pays a highly inflated price
(400 silver shekels) to do so.
The purchase of the cave of
Machpelah is a highly significant
because it is recorded in great
detail and highly legal terminology,
not just here,
but three times subsequently in
Something significant is being
hinted at here,
otherwise why mention,
exactly where the field is
and who Abraham bought it from?
Immediately after the story of land
purchase, we read:
“Abraham was old, well advanced
in years, and God had blessed
Abraham with everything.”
Again this sounds like the end of a
However, here it continues.
Abraham launches into a new
this time to find a suitable wife for
his son Isaac,
who by now is at least 37 years
Abraham leaves nothing to
He wants Isaac to have a wife who
will share his faith and way of life.
As with the purchase of the field,
the course of events is described
in more detail than almost
anywhere else in the Torah.
Every exchange is recorded.
The contrast with the story of
the binding of Isaac could not be
- Abraham’s thoughts,
- Isaac’s feelings
is left unsaid.
Here, everything is said.
- What are we learning out of this?
- What is so significant in the way
all is recalled?
The explanation is simple and
Throughout the story of Abraham
G-d had promised them two
children and a land.
• The promise of the Land is
repeated no less than 7 times.
• The promise of children occurs
Abraham’s descendants will be
“a great nation,”
as many as
“the dust of the earth,”
“the stars in the sky”;
he will be the father not of one
nation but of many.
when Sarah dies,
Abraham has not a single inch of
the land that he can call his own,
and has only one child who will
continue the covenant, Isaac,
Neither promise has been
The extraordinary detail of the two
main stories in Chayei Sarah:
- the purchase of land
- the finding of a wife for Isaac.
What did the Torah us to learn of this extraordinary passage?
G-d promises, but we have to act.
• G-d promised Abraham the land,
- but he had to buy the first field.
• G-d promised Abraham many
- but Abraham had to ensure that
his son was married,
and to a woman who would share
the life of the covenant, so that
Abraham would have, as we say today,
Despite all the promises, G-d
does not and will not do it alone.
- G-d creates the space for human freedom,
- G-d He gives us responsibility,
- G-d saved Noah from the flood,
but Noah had to make the ark.
- G-d gave the land of Israel to the people of Israel ,
but they had to fight the battles.
- G-d gives us the strength to act,
but we have to do the deed.
What changes the world,
What fulfils our destiny,
is not what G-d does for us but
what we do for G-d.