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In this weeks parshah we read about Avraham’s purchase of Me’aras HaMachpelah. Prior to any negotiations Avraham said to the bnei Cheis, “Ger v’soshav anochi…” – I am a stranger and a resident… (Bereishis 23:4). Rashi quotes a medrash that explains the apparent paradox in Avraham’s words as follows: Avraham was telling the bnei Cheis to treat him like a stranger and sell the property to him, and, if not, he will be forced to act as a resident and take what is rightfully his – for Hashem has already said to Avraham that this land will belong to his children.
The meforshim are bothered by this interpretation and ask the following question: In parshas Lech Lecha we learned about the dispute between Avraham’s and Lot’s shepherds. The pasuk does not inform us regarding the details of the dispute – but Rashi does. Rashi says that Lot’s shepherds were resha’im, and would allow their animals to graze in private property. Avraham’s shepherds chastised them for this, as these were acts of stealing. In defense Lot’s shepherds responded that what they were doing was not stealing, since Hashem gave this land to Avraham and Lot was his only inheritor (at the time). Rashi concludes by quoting the end of that pasuk, …veha’Canna’ani veHa’prizi az yoshev ba’aretz – and the Canna’ani and the Prizi were still occupying the land), indicating that Avraham had not yet acquired the land and therefore allowing the animals to graze in private property was indeed stealing.
The two explanations from Rashi seem to contradict one another. In this week’s parshah he says that Avraham could take the land as its rightful owner, and in parshas Lech Lecha he said that Avraham had not yet acquired the land.
The Chizkuni and the Sifsei Chachamim both suggest the following answer: Hashem promised Avraham that his children would inherit the land of Eretz Yisrael. In parshas Lech Lecha, Avraham had not yet had any offspring; therefore Hashem’s promise did not come into effect. In parshas Chayei Sarah, Yitzchak had already been born. Thus Hashem’s promise was applicable, and Avraham could demand the land as its rightful owner.
My rebbe, Reb Shmuel Birembaum, zt”l, suggested another answer to this question, based on an explanation from the Malbim on a different point in this episode. The Malbim explains that Avraham Avinu intended to accomplish more than merely acquiring a piece of land; he wanted to teach the public that there was an afterlife. The general consensus of that time was that there was nothing after one dies, and Avraham wanted to use this opportunity to teach the people otherwise. With this the Malbim explains why Avraham informed them of his intentions with the field in the first place, and continuously stressed and reiterated several times that he is acquiring the land for a burial. Avraham attempted to instill in the bnei Cheis the belief that there is an afterlife.
Reb Shmuel proved from a Gemara (Gittin 47a) that there are two separate levels of acquisition: the monetary aspect and the level of acquisition that affects issurim and mitzvos. For example, if a non- Jew acquires land in Eretz Yisrael, he completely owns the land as far as monetary issues are concerned. This enables him to do whatever he pleases to the land. However, regarding terumah and ma’aser and other mitzvos, the land is not considered owned by a non-Jew, which would exempt him from those mitzvos. Rather the non-Jew is obligated in these mitzvos, since he cannot acquire the land on the level that affects mitzvos.
Now we can understand the seemingly contradictory explanations from Rashi. Regarding monetary issues, Avraham had not yet acquired the land. However, regarding mitzvos, Avraham had already acquired Eretz Yisrael. In parshas Lech Lecha, Rashi was addressing a monetary issue (i.e. whether one may allow his cattle to graze in someone else’s field. In that regard Rashi explained that the land belonged to the current residents of the land, as Avraham had not yet acquired the land.
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I watch my children use blocks to build a large structure, observing the trepidation with which they add each block. As the structure becomes larger there is a greater risk of it collapsing, thus bringing an end to an hour of playful labor. I anticipate what will happen when one child adds a block to the top floor, compromising the integrity of the building and resulting in the collapse of the entire structure. The argument that ensues is predictable, as each child blames the other for “ruining” the fun. As an adult, I wonder about the need to attribute blame. Will assigning blame be instrumental in rebuilding the structure?
In this week’s parshah the Torah discusses the halachos of when one steals from another and when confronted in beis din, the thief swears falsely with his denial that he stole. This parshah was already taught in parshas Vayikra; however, there are two halachos that the Torah adds in this parshah to this topic.
In order to carry from one’s home into the street (even when the area is enclosed by a properly constructed eruv), the eruvin ceremony must be performed. This ceremony involves the placing of food in one designated home on behalf of all Sabbath observers in the enclosed area. In order for the eruvin ceremony to be valid, however, it must be performed on behalf of all owners of streets and homes in the enclosed area.
Question: On Friday night the chazzan in many shuls ascends the bimah for Kabbalat Shabbos but goes to the amud starting for Barchu. Why?
Question: As Shavuot is fast approaching – a holiday on which we dwell on the story of Ruth and the origins of the royal house of David – I was wondering if you could help me resolve something. Some people say that Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi, the redactor of the six orders of the Mishnah and a scion of King David, purposely kept any mention of Chanukah and the Hasmonean kings out of the Mishnah because the Hasmoneans improperly crowned themselves and ignored the rule that all Jewish kings are supposed to come from the tribe of Yehudah. Is this true?
The Rema writes (Ohr Hachaim, 494:4), “It is customary to spread branches of trees in our synagogues and homes [on Shavuos] in order to commemorate that which the sages say [Rosh Hashanah 16a] that on Shavuos the world is judged concerning [how many] fruits the trees will produce [that year].”
‘A Separate Contribution From Each’
If a man suspects his wife of infidelity, he is to bring witnesses and warn her not to go into private quarters with the man in question. If she violates that warning, he is to bring her to the kohen, who will give her the “bitter waters” to drink. If she was falsely accused and was innocent, she will be blessed with children. If she was guilty, she will die a gruesome death.
A flash of red caught my eye, and I looked up and saw a cardinal perched on the picnic table on my deck. What a miracle, I marveled. You’re beautiful. Thanks, Hashem. And then my mind’s wheels began to roll, and it struck me that several miracle stories had come my way this week. The stories prodded me to think of and feel Hashem’s presence as a more tangible and vivid reality.
Over the years I’ve received letters from all over the world in which people share feelings and thoughts they’ve experienced upon becoming became Torah observant. Usually these letters arrive not long after the writers had heard one of my speeches. No matter where a particular speech took place, and no matter whether I spoke the language or had to use a translator, the magic always works. In reality, it’s not magic at all but a little voice in the soul – the “Pintele Yid,” that spark of G-d’s Word engraved on all our neshamahs. Here is one recent letter.
By the time these words are printed, there will be only a few more days left before Shavuos. We hope that up until that point, we will still have been counting the days of Sefiras Ha’Omer with a bracha, but we also know that too often, despite our best efforts, we drop out of counting with a bracha some time before the count is complete.
In this week’s parshah the Torah tells us that the bechorim were replaced by the levi’im to serve in the Mikdash. The Torah says that there were 273 more bechorim than levi’im. Those bechorim could not simply be replaced, and had to be redeemed. Hashem told Moshe that each bechor should give five shekalim to Moshe, who, in turn, should give them to Aharon and his sons. With that, they would be redeemed.
Question: Is there anything special that one should do on Yom Yerushalayim?
Question: As the shamash in a small community shul with an aging population, I am faced with numerous challenges. The following is only one of them. During sefirah, different people daven for the amud for Ma’ariv. Once, a bar mitzvah was one of them. On another occasion, a very recent ger lead the service. Were these individuals allowed to lead the congregation in counting sefirah? I also wonder, in general, if everyone should be trusted to lead the counting. What if someone forgot to count on one of the previous nights but does not inform anyone of this?
The heinous crime that put “Prisoner X” Ben Zygier in an Israel jail where he killed himself was not known until today: He butchered a secret Mossad operation to bring home the remains of 3 soldiers.
Last week, police executed a search warrant in the couple’s former home in Dewitt.
“They located the barbecue in a grassy area, ignoring safety guidelines.”
The organizers of a Thursday parade in Rome marking the World War II liberation of Italy prevented a representative from the Jewish Brigade group from speaking at the commemorative ceremony. A group of Jews and others marched under the Israeli flag and a banner of the Jewish Brigade that fought the Nazis in Italy. The [...]
Rabbi Avraham Sherman could be charged with fraud, breach of trust, obstruction of justice, and abuse of office.
Second suspect sought after Watertown explosions, gunfire.
Peter Vallone Jr., the frontrunner in the Queens Borough President’s race this fall, met last week with the editorial board of The Jewish Press at the newspaper’s Boro Park office. Vallone, a city councilman representing Astoria, Queens, touted his strong backgrounds in both public safety and running a small business, as well as his being a longtime supporter of Israel and of more funding and benefits for private schools.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/did-avraham-own-the-land-yet/2011/11/17/
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