A simple but beautiful Chofetz Chaim
insight illuminates a key to becoming an achrayus
personality - one who lives with a sense of
Avraham seeks to bury his Sarah from the
Chiti land: The Chitites are effusive:
"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
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
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.
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."
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
ולבסוף בקש אברהם את בני
חת לדבר את עפרון בן צוחר שיתן לו את מערת המכפלה שבשדהו
והדבר צריך באור,
בני חת לאברהםאיש ממנו את קברו לא יכלה ממך מקבור מתך״,
א״כ למה היה
מעפרון את שדהו,
להביא את מתו ולקברו במקום אשר יבחר לו?
 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
אלא ידע אברהם אבינו,
לקבור מתו באחדה שדות,
השדה שילך לשדה אחר,
סתם ״איש ממנו לא יכלה,/
קברינו קבוך את מתך״ עדיין לאהגיעה ענין לידי מעשה,
אברהם לדעת את שמו הפרטי של בעל השרה,
אם באמת יש
אתנפשכם לקבור מתי,
ופגעו לי בעפרון בן
לבוא בדברים עם בעל שדה אחד ולא עם כל העדה,
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
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
The next day, only he showed up for
Avraham realized that he needed to
pinpoint someone - thus he approaches, Ephron
(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
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
even as there are deeper reasons for this
particular section - me'aras hamachpela, the
principle remains correct