Chayei Sarah: Chapter 16

The cave of Machpelah (Part two)


A discussion of the events surrounding Abraham's purchase of the Machpelah cave ensues. We learn that Abraham managed to purchase both the cave and the field it stood in for a reasonable price, because he neither outwardly displayed nor inwardly harbored a desire to own either one. He knew that they were his by right - by virtue of his spiritual effort - and this is something very different from a selfish desire for ownership. Indeed, it is Abraham's spiritual elevation that causes the property to seem like a burden to Efron, its original owner. Rabbi Shimon then recounts what transpired between Adam and Abraham in the cave. Adam at first believes that his original humiliation and sin will be compounded in comparison with Abraham's righteousness. But a remarkable truth is now brought to light, when Abraham agrees to pray for Adam. Both Adam and Eve are said to have lived for Abraham's sake, for he was the first man to become aware and cognizant of the Creator. This startling fact concerning Abraham's connection to Adam and Eve is further illuminated when Abraham restores Eve - for whose sin he has not prayed - to Adam's side, an event paralleled by the burial of Sarah. After questions from Rabbi Shimon's son, Rabbi Elazar, we are then taken deep into the secret of the difference between the field of Machpelah and the cave. This difference exists, ultimately, to show that the Holy One's actions in this world are simply intended to bring the Light and sweetness of the Upper Realms. The differences between the cave and the field is a code, referring to the different frequencies of spiritual Light that are present in the physical realm, like the colors of the spectrum.


This section helps explain how right conduct and resistance to our avaricious impulses allow us to receive the infinite delight waiting to pour down from the heavenly realm. Moreover, we draw the strength to triumph over these self-seeking urges.