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The Weekly Torah Portion:
Rabbi Davis gives his commentary and insight
Summary Chaye Sarah 5762
A further underlying theme of the sedra is Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel. Sarah has now died and Abraham seeks a burial plot.
The Torah tells us that he approached the Hittite nation with a request to buy a suitable burial plot. This was their response (chapter 23):
Abraham then bowed down to the people and said: "If you really want to help me, speak to Efron for me, and ask him to sell me the cave of Machpelah, on the edge of his field".
"No my lord", Efron replied. "Listen to me! I have already given you the cave and the field, in the presence of the people!"
Abraham then replied: "No sir, you listen to me! I want to give you money for the field".
This was Efron's reply: "My lord, listen to me! What's 400 silver shekels between you and me?"
So the Torah tells us that Abraham paid 400 shekels for the Cave of Machpelah and the field around it.
Points to Ponder
In the second part of the sedra, Abraham sends his faithful servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. We presume that the servant is Eliezer, but his name is not mentioned. Eliezer is commanded to go to Abraham's homeland, Aram Naharayim, to find a wife and bring her back to the Land of Israel. He is not permitted to allow Isaac to leave Israel on order to satisfy the girl or her parents.
On his arrival, Eliezer prays to G-d for success. He asks that when the girls of the town come out to draw water, he will approach one of them and ask for water. She will respond positively and also offer water to the camels. Before Eliezer had even finished speaking, Rebekah, Abraham's great-niece had appeared, and the scene played itself out, just as Eliezer had asked.
The Torah sets this story out in great detail, repeating parts of the story three times. On this our sages say that "the table-talk of the servants of the Patriarchs' households is (even) more beautiful than the Torah of their descendants".
On a more sour note, we are also introduced to Rebekah's brother Laban. We shall see in two weeks' time what a rogue he was, but even in this story it is clear that his 'falling over himself' for Eliezer was due to the gifts borne by the latter. (see chapter 24, verses 29-31)
Other points in brief:
2. Abraham's wife, Keturah (Ch 25, v1), is presumed to be Hagar. This is because in chapter 24, verse 62, Isaac was travelling from Be'er Lachai Ro'i, the place at which we last heard of Hagar and Ishmael. It seems that Isaac had decided that the time was ripe for reconciliation with Ishmael, who we see was present at Abraham's burial, see chapter 25, verse 9.