Chayei Sara – The First Jewish Real Estate

Some commentaries say that Sarah died of shock when she heard that Abraham was taking Yitzhak to be a sacrifice. The text hints there were problems because Sarah died in Kiryat Arba (which is Hebron) and Abraham was in Beer Sheva. Whatever the ups and downs of their relationship, Sarah died at 127. This makes Yitzhak 37 at the time of the Akeida. In order to bury her, Abraham takes the opportunity of buying a double cave (Machpela -kaful – means double) from the wily Hittite businessman Efron, with 400 shekels of real silver coins. The permanent ownership is called “Achuza”. This was so that nobody should later come and say it didn’t belong to him.

This recalls many centuries later when the early Zionists made land purchases from the land owners in Palestine in order to settle it. This land was also bought and not stolen. This parsha includes the first ‘Shidduch’ where Abraham sends Eliezer, with many gifts as a dowry, back home to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Yitzhak amongst his extended family. Rebecca proves her worthiness by her kindness to a stranger and to his animals. Another important rule is established in the story. She cannot be married against her will. She is asked, “Will you go with this man (to marry your cousin in the land of the Canaanites)? And she said, “I will go.”

This parsha continues romantically and with psychological depth, when it says that “Yitzhak took Rebecca as a wife, and he loved her, and he was comforted for the death of his mother.” Later we read that Abraham fulfils G-d’s promise of being a father of many children by another wife and concubines. But the text insists: “Abraham gave all that he had to Yitzhak, and to the other sons he gave gifts and sent them away from Yitzhak.” When Abraham dies at 175 he too is buried in the Cave “in the field which Abraham bought from Efron”.

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