Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event
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.
In this week’s parshah the issue at hand was relevant to mitzvos. As explained by the Malbim, Avraham was using this acquisition as a means to teach the bnei Cheis to believe in an afterlife. Thus Avraham was able to invoke his property rights as the matter pertained to mitzvos.
For questions or comments about this column, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
“When a mother plays with her child there is an acute awareness of the child. But even when the mother works at a job or is distracted by some other activity, there is a natural, latent awareness of her child’s existence.
“Guess what?” Benzion exclaimed when he returned home. “I just won an identical Mishnah Berurah in the avos u’banim raffle.”
While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.
‘He Shall Dwell Outside His Tent’
(Moed Katan 7b)
Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?
Based on the opinion of the Ramban, the Territorial School believes that leaving any territory of the Land of Israel in the possession of non-Jews is a violation of a biblical mandate.
“But they told me to come in today,” she said. They gave me this date months ago. It’s not my fault if it’s the wrong day.”
Tosafos there takes issue with Rashi’s view that the letters that are formed in the knots of the tefillin are considered part of the name of Hashem.
Blind obedience is not a virtue in Judaism. God wants us to understand the laws He has commanded us
What does Hashem want of us? That we should protect each other and the awesome heritage He gave us.
Israel is the only place where we have the potential to fulfill our mandate as the chosen people.
The innkeeper smiled and replied, “Why do you think we are dancing? We are dancing because G-d destroyed the Bais HaMikdash!”
One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.
Official Facebook page of Fatah, headed by Mahmoud “Peace Partner: Abbas, boasts about leading Palestinians in terror.
11:48pm Be’er Sheva 11:45 Rocket Alert Ashdod.. Ashkelon…Shafir… Kiryat..Malachi 11:44pm Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ashkelon 11:26pm Eshkol x2 10:55pm Eshkol 9:59pm Ashdod 8:12pm Sdot Negev, Shaar Negev 7:55pm Ashkelon Coast 7:47pm Rocket Alert Sha’ar HaNegev 7:11pm Ashkelon Coast 7:05pm Multiple Rocket Alerts Sdot Negev…Netivot 7:05pm Ashkelon, Kfar Maimon, Gaza border communities – all Multiples. 6:43pm Ashkelon […]
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/did-avraham-own-the-land-yet/2011/11/17/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: