Shabbat Chayei Sara is a huge holiday for the city of the patriarchs since it describes Abraham’s purchase of a burial cave in Hebron for his late wife Sara:
Sara died in Kiriath Arba, a.ak.a. Hebron, and Abraham proceeded to mourn for her, and then rose from beside his dead, and told his Hittite neighbors: “I am a resident alien among you; sell me a burial site among you, that I may remove my dead for burial.”
Despite the objections of the land’s owner, Ephron the Hittite, to accept money, Abraham insisted: “If only you would hear me out! Let me pay the price of the land; accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” So, Ephron said he’d let him take the cave off his hands for 400 silver shekels.
Rashi says a silver shekel is equal in value to half an ounce of gold. Currently, the melt value of one 1/2 oz American Gold Eagle coin is $886.65, which means Abraham spent $354,660 on the Cave of the Patriarchs, not accounting for inflation, historic market shifts, and local real estate taxes. But whether the purchase price was exorbitant or a steal, the Torah confirms that our forefather owned it and left it to us, the grandchildren of his favorite son, Isaac.
For this reason, thousands of Jews are flocking to Hebron today, Cheshvan 24, 5783, November 18, 2022, to be in Hebron on Shabbat when we read the Torah passage about our zeidi’s real estate deal.
And since so many Jews are flooding the holy city of Hebron, it makes for amusing and heartwarming pictures. We thank TPS photographer Tzipi Schlissel for these images.