The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
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.
Why did so many of our great sages from the Rambam to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein live outside Israel?
Casting A Doubt
‘Shall We Say [They] Are Not Valid?’
I was about six years old at the time and recall that very special occasion so well.
Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?
Why was Samson singled out as the only Shofet required to be a nazir from cradle to grave?
“What do you mean?” asked the secretary. “We already issued a ruling and closed the case.”
Tosafos suggests several answers as to how a minor can own an item, m’d’Oraisa.
This week’s video discusses the important connection between the Priestly Blessing and parenting.
Many of us simply don’t get the need for the Torah to list the exact same gift offering, 12 times!
There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.
Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.
One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.
This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah
Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if […]
Iran tried to buy UN-banned products in the Czech Republic but was caught and stopped, Reuters reports exclusively.
The test was planned, but the Defense Ministry is mum on details.
The assault was on the same street where Ilan Halimi was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 2006.
Dr. Avi Yitzchak, the first Ethiopian doctor in Israel, also saved victims of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
“He did not know what anger was and never engaged in slander.”
The teacher could face three years in jail for displaying Nazi symbols, which includes singing Nazi songs.
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: