Parshas Chayei Sarah
By: Rabbi Shmuel Gluck
When Sarah died Avrohom was forced to purchase the land on which she would be buried. When one reads the Parsha, it appears as if Avrohom deliberately made the purchase a public scene, by speaking to the entire city. Why did Avrohom do that?
The Malbim explains that Avrohom was teaching the B’nei Cheis a lesson. At that time, most people believed that death was the end. There was no Neshama or Olam Habo. With such an attitude, the goal of burial was for the dignity of those still living. It didn’t matter where, or how, people were buried, as long as they were taken out of the way of the living.
Avrohom taught them about Kovod Hames, the dignity of the deceased. This introduced them to the Neshama, the next world, and the concept of reward and punishment. There are two lessons people should extract from this.
1) All people are teachers. They may not teach in front of a blackboard, but they are still teachers. Teaching in front of a class is often boring. Speeches don’t usually teach people; real-life incidents do. Instead of putting people “to sleep”, real-life lessons intrigue them, and the message will be more readily etched in their memory. Avrohom taught them but did it without their being aware of it.
Parents and Mechanchim should take advantage of teaching opportunities that arise during their lives, because these will have the greatest chance of being accepted.
2) People aren’t always in the mood to teach. Nevertheless, when the opportunity seems to be a once in a lifetime, they have a responsibility to teach. At those times, people should, to the degree that they can, place their emotions aside, and teach, while they’re experiencing, the events of their lives. Avrohom saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to teach a life lesson, despite his personal loss.
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