Rabbi Krakowski: Parshas Chayei Sarah

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Avrohom Avinu sets off in search for a burial site for Sarah Imeinu, with his eyes set on buying Mearas Hamachpeila from Efron. Efron tells Avrohom Avinu that he need not buy it from him, rather, that he may have it as a present. However, Avrohom stubbornly insists upon buying it. There is an obvious question here. Why did Avrohom find it necessary to purchase Mearas Hamachpeila, rather than just receive it as a present, when either way he would properly own it?

In Derech Hashem, the Ramchal discusses a very essential idea. He asks: if Hashem only wants to do good for us, why doesn’t He just place us directly in Olam Habah, where we would bask in the presence of the Shechina and know only the ultimate pleasure and good?

In this explanation, the Ramchal compares the process of acquiring Olam Habah to the process of making bread. If one toils over growing wheat, grinding the wheat into flour, and then forming dough out of the flour to be baked into bread, he finds tremendous pleasure in consuming the bread—because it is a result of his ‘effort’. However, if one were to receive the food he eats with no effort on his part, the bread would be relatively meaningless. Likewise, if one were to constantly receive goodness without working for it in some way, he would feel ill at ease; embarrassed and undeserving. So too, says the Ramchal, would it be if we were to be placed in Olam Habah without having toiled in Olam Hazeh.

Similarly, in the end of this week’s Parsha, Avrohom Avinu gave “presents” to the sons of his concubines. Rashi says that these “presents” refer to all of the presents he received over the course of his life. Rashi further explains that Avrohom Avinu gave away these “presents” because he wished to have no benefit from possessions that he attained through no effort of his own. It would seem that Avrohom Avinu only wanted what he deserved.

We live in a society that has lost focus on the individual’s sense of self value. We have come to a point where we prefer to receive things for free, rather than working for them. We need to realize the importance of earning and deserving what we have. Only then can we truly enjoy the process of life, and thus, the rewards with which that process provides us.

A very warm Good-Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski