וַתָּמָת שָׂרָה בְּקִרְיַת אַרְבַּע הִוא חֶבְרוֹן בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן וַיָּבֹא אַבְרָהָם לִסְפֹּד לְשָׂרָה וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ: -בראשית כג/ב
And Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and to cry. (Braishis 23/2)
Zera Shimshon asks that the words in this possuk seem to be out of order. Concerning the seven days of mourning the Gemorro in Moad Katan (27b) says that, “the first three days of mourning is for weeping and the next days are to eulogize.” First comes tears and then comes the eulogy. Similarly, the eulogist usually cries before he gives his eulogy. Therefore, seemingly, it would be more correct to write, “And Avraham came TO CRY AND EULOGIZE Sarah and not EULOGIZE SARAH AND TO CRY. Why then does the possuk mention that Avraham came to eulogize before he cried.
Secondly he asks that the letter “chahv” in the word “lifkos”- to cry- is written smaller then other letters in the Sefer Torah. What is Torah coming to teach us with this?
He answers in light of an idea that the Sefer Maavar Yabok writes. He writes that the tears that are shed for someone who passed away are tremendously beneficial for the deceased person. They open up for him the “Gates of Tears” (Shaari Dimma) in heaven which is a place where people are judged very very mercifully. However the Sefer Maavar Yabok adds that not all tears are equal.Only tears that are shed for the benefit of the deceased’s nefesh (soul, spiritual part of a personO have the ability to open Shaari Dimma. Tears that are directed towards the deceased’s body, that is gone forever (or crying himself – how difficult it will be for him, his family, or his community without the deceased etc.- do not open the Shaari Dimma.
Eulogizes obviously focus on the deceased’s good deeds and his spiritual strengths. Therefore the Torah writes that Avraham first eulogized Sarah and then cried to show that Avraham weeped for Sarah nefesh and and not for the physical lose.
This is also the reason that the “chahv” is written small to show that although there were two reasons to cry, for her nefesh and for the lose of the body, his tears were directed only towards her nefesh and not towards her physical body or towards himself at all
גֵּר וְתוֹשָׁב אָנֹכִי עִמָּכֶם תְּנוּ לִי אֲחֻזַּת קֶבֶר עִמָּכֶם וְאֶקְבְּרָה מֵתִי מִלְּפָנָי:בראשית כג/ד
On the possuk (Braishis 23/4), “I am a foreigner and a resident among you…” Rashi comments, “A Medrash Aggado explains, ‘If you wish I will act like a foreigner (and I will buy the Maaras HaMachpaila from you), but if (you will) not (sell it to me then) I will act as a resident and take it by rights since HaKodesh Baruch Hue said to me, “To your offsprings I will give this land.””
From this medrash we learn that Avraham Avinu was determined to bury Sarah Eimainu in the Maaras HaMachpaila and offered Bnei Chais to choose one of two options how it would become his; either he would buy it from them or he would take it because Hashem promised it to him and therefore it was legally his.
Zera Shimshon asks that if Avraham was really entitled to the land because of Hashem’s promise, then why did he offer to buy it from Efron like a foreigner? Why would Avraham want to pay for the land that is rightfully his?
He answers in light of a machlokos brought in Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 163/2). The halacha is that if a person buys a house in a city he automatically becomes a citizen of that city with all of its obligations and benefits. There is a machlokos, though, in which specific situation does this halacha apply. Some say that this is only if he bought the house in order to permanently live there. Others say that it applies even if he intends to live there for only a short period of time.
According to this, explains Zera Shimshon, Avraham didn’t want to take the Maaras HaMachpaila as a gift but he wanted to buy it. However he didn’t only buy a small plot but the whole field. Because he also wanted to buy the whole field he was concerned that Bnei Chaiss would think that he planned to permanently live next to his wife’s grave. Therefore Avraham was concerned that Bnei Chais did not want him to be a part of their city and because of this they would not let Avraham buy it.
To put them at ease he told them that if the custom in Chevron was like the first opinion in Shulchan Aruch, that only a person who plans to live in a city forever becomes a citizen, then he will buy the field and stipulate that he will continue to be a foreigner. If however the custom in Chevron was like the second opinion, that even one who buys a house to live there for a short period becomes a citizen, then he will take from his legal rights!
Concerning Avraham’s burial of Sarah the Medrash comments: This is the meaning of the verse “Whoever runs after righteousness and kindness finds life, prosperity and honor.” (The possuk is referring to Avrohom)…Whoever runs after righteousness” … “and kindness” (is referring to when Avrohom) was kind to Sarah (at the time of her funeral).
The Zera Shimshon asks why is Avrohom described as someone who “runs after kindness” for burying Sarah? The halocho requires every husband to bury his wife! What then was so special about what Avrohom did?
He answers this question by first asking another question.
Right after Sarah passed away Avrohom spoke to B’nei Chais and asked them to approach Effron to ask him to sell Maaros HaMachpaila to him to bury Sarah. The Zera Shimshon asks why didn’t Avrohom speak to Effron directly? The normal reason that a person doesn’t directly negotiate is either to convince the seller, who is hesitant to sell, to sell or to bargain for a good price.
Concerning Avrohom, however, these two reasons weren’t relevant. Firstly, Avorohm specifically said that he didn’t care how much it cost. And secondly, we don’t find anywhere that Effron was hesitant to sell!
And even if he wanted a middle man for some other reason, why did he need a whole nation to be present? Why wasn’t it enough that only one person would speak to him?
He answers that the reason he called of B’nei Chais was not to mediate a good deal. Rather he felt that Sarah deserved a big funeral. The way he orchestrated this was by calling B’nei Chais to mediate the selling of the burial plot. Like this, Avrohom reasoned, since they were there, they would stay for the funeral and Sarah would have a big funeral that she deserved.
This, concludes the Zera Shimshon, is why the Medrash praises Avrohom for burying Sarah. Even though a husband is obliged to bury his wife he certainly isn’t required to go to great lengths to insure that a lot of people will attend. The only reason that Avrohom did do it was because he ran after kindness!
HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.
The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about “ practical kabbolo“ but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.
He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name “Zera Shimshon“) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies “... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things... and wealth and honor......”
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