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  KD MAGAZINE!                      ב"ה     
 

The Call

 

A simple but beautiful Chofetz Chaim insight illuminates a key to becoming an achrayus personality - one who lives with a sense of responsibility.

 

Avraham seeks to bury his Sarah from the Chiti land: The Chitites are effusive[1]:

 

6. "Listen to us, my lord; you are a prince of God in our midst; in the choicest of our graves bury your dead. None of us will withhold his grave from you to bury your dead: 7. And Abraham arose and prostrated himself to the people of the land, to the sons of Heth.  

 

Even as their response seems warm, Avraham seems to persist against unspoken opposition

 

8. And he spoke with them, saying, "If it is your will that I bury my dead from before me, listen to me and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar.   9. That he may give me the Machpelah (double) Cave, which belongs to him, which is at the end of his field; for a full price let him give it to me in your midst for burial property."   10. Now Ephron was sitting in the midst of the sons of Heth, ...

 

It is almost as if Avraham is saying, ok - so none of you really want to cooperate, let me speak to Ephron. But where does one smell in their generosity a whiff of resistance? Chofetz Chaim's insight speaks to the depths of human psychology and to each and every one of us. Herein, the Hebrew original:

 

[1] A response so significant that Ibn Ezra suggests that this articulation may be the primary reason why this whole section is elaborate upon in such great detail in the Torah                                                                                                                                                      

ולבסוף בקש אברהם את בני חת לדבר את עפרון בן צוחר שיתן לו את מערת המכפלה שבשדהו . והדבר צריך באור, מכיון שענו בני חת לאברהםאיש ממנו את קברו לא יכלה ממך מקבור מתך״, א״כ למה היה ,צריךלבקש מעפרון את שדהו, יכולהי׳ להביא את מתו ולקברו במקום אשר יבחר לו?

אלא ידע אברהם אבינו, שאם יבוא לקבור מתו באחדה שדות, ידחה ובעל השדה שילך לשדה אחר, כיכ שאומרים סתם ״איש ממנו לא יכלה,/ או״ במבחר קברינו קבוך את מתך״ עדיין לאהגיעה ענין לידי מעשה, ולכן רצה אברהם לדעת את שמו הפרטי של בעל השרה, ואליו ישים דבריו, וע״כ אמר, אם באמת יש אתנפשכם לקבור מתי, אזי בבקשה מכם, ופגעו לי בעפרון בן צוהר, רוצה אני לבוא בדברים עם בעל שדה אחד ולא עם כל העדה, שלא אהי' בבחינת ״זיל הבא קא מדחי לי׳ זיל הכא קמדח י לי,״.


  Try this experiment )you don't have to) at home. At a meal, innocently request to pass the soda. You may be underwhelmed with the response. Now try it this way: Shimon/Shprintza - can you please the soda. Unless you have a recalcitrant youth, you"ll get the coke. Whither the difference?

 

Chofetz Chaim teaches that when the Chiti people first responded to Avraham's plea with their generous generality - no one here will hold back - what they meant (probably subconsciously) is of course someone will be nice to you, but each individual was thinking, but it certainly won't be me. Even as they recognized Avraham's greatness they refused to take personal responsibility - bringing to mind a famous apocryphal ma'aseh:

 

A small dwindling Jewish community struggled with their minyan as they had only 10 eligible males. Winter, spring, summer, fall, they never missed. One day a new family, with an additional eligible man moved in and entered the shul. The joy and relief was palpable.

The next day, only he showed up for minyan.

 

Avraham realized that he needed to pinpoint someone - thus he approaches, Ephron[2] (in the presence of them all), as if to say - I am asking you - not someone else.

 

I have heard it said in the name of Rav Yisroel Salanter that it is much easier to make Hashem Melech al kol haolam then Elokai v'elokei avosai, i.e. to make Hashem Master of the universe is simpler than to make him my personal God - for to the extent that one feels that Hashem is speaking to each and every one of us, it becomes harder to avoid the calling.

 

But in that discomfort is found greatness and responsibility: Consider this: the Torah World recently lost Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, a giant of a man whose appeal lay in love, humility and sheer force of will. Undoubtedly, Rav Nosson Tzvi understood that even in his frail body, (or perhaps davka through it) he had a personal mission to build the greatest Torah magnet in 2,000 years. In his incredible humility and love for man, there is no way he could have accomplished what he did without saying again and again that Hashem has great plans for me and I wish to respond to the call.

 

The implicit nobility found in the message of personal responsibility is that the Master of the Universe is saying to each one of us:

 

You my dear child have something that no one else has - therefore they (and I) need you. I created you - no? In a tachlitic world of purpose, there is no random - you are no replicable accident and thus I entrust you with a particular and sacred mission - now go and figure out what it is.

 

May we answer our call.

 

A gutten Shabbos


[1] A response so significant that Ibn Ezra suggests that this articulation may be the primary reason why this whole section is elaborate upon in such great detail in the Torah                                                                                                                                                      

[2] even as there are deeper reasons for this particular section - me'aras hamachpela, the principle remains correct

 

 Good Shabbos

Asher Brander             


 
   
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