Let him grant me the Machpelah Cave which is his.
We are sometimes called Hashem’s children, while at other times we are called his servants. Which is better? We pride ourselves on being called banim/ children, for the closeness that it implies. Yet, in praising Moshe, the best honorific that the Torah comes up with is “servant of G-d.” The answer, it turns out, is similar to the one we use to find a way out of other contradictions. In short – it depends.
We often speak of the revealed and the hidden aspects of things, especially more esoteric matters that relate to Hashem Himself. We are used to assuming that the revealed portions are a small fraction of the larger entity or concept. This larger portion remains remote and inaccessible. In truth, this is an inaccurate approximation, because the hidden element is often something that is infinite, and we cannot really speak of a fraction or portion of the infinite!
The kedushah of the Jewish people is one of those areas. In its revealed part, we readily discern righteous Jews, average Jews, and evil Jews. Not so regarding the hidden part. There, “Your people are all righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified.” No distinctions here. This more hidden, essential kedushah is not so sullied by our misdeeds. It persists despite them.
Here we arrive at the true difference between son and servant. The eved of the Bible is wholly in the possession of his master, as if his core essence does not belong to him. Now, in looking at the “revealed,” open, manifest elements of being, we look at a son as far more elevated in distinction than a servant. But the latter has something that the former does not. The eved – all of him, including his more hidden dimensions – belongs wholly to another. So, too, it is in our relationship with HKBH. With concern to the more “external” parts of a relationship, we are like children. That is the more distinguished place to be. With respect to the more hidden parts of ourselves, however, we much more resemble avadim, who are wholly possessed by the Master. The hidden dimensions of our being are also His. If you are looking for the place of our most profound connection to Hashem, it is in those regions.
Avrohom rose to a level in which all of his thoughts were a kind of minor prophecy. Having rid himself of all evil, his mind operated in synch with that of Hashem, at least to the extent that the only thoughts that came to him were those that coincided with the Will of HKBH. This was the basis for his observing the Torah well before it was given. Because he had developed a strong sense that he was to act in a certain way, i.e. to perform the various mitzvah activities, he knew that this was also the Will of his Creator.
For this reason as well, he waited as long as he did before attempting to marry off Yitzchok. He had never developed a strong sense before that this is what he was to do. Without that sense, he knew that it could not be what Hashem wanted of him at that time!
Around the time of the Akeidah, however, this led to strong self-doubt. Having almost lost Yitzchok, he realized that if his son had married and had children, there would have been a possibility of continuity for his work and the berachah he had earlier received from Hashem. But if this now seemed so clear, why had he not had the strong sense of direction that he had always had before about how he should act? He began worrying that he had somehow stumbled and slipped, and lost this capacity to sense the Divine Will. He had to be reassured by Hashem that this was not the case. Avrohom had remained on the same madregah. He had not sensed a compelling need to marry off Yitzchok only because a suitable mate had not yet been born!
This itself requires explanation. It begins with the premise that part of the mission of the Jewish people is to banish the conventional form of death. When that goal would be accomplished, death as a horrible end to life would disappear. It would be replaced by what we know as death-by-neshikah, the Divine kiss, as it were. Neshikah is not a tragic finality, but rather a wonderful beginning. It means that all parts of the person rise step by step in perpetuity. The elements of the person that we mentioned above – the profound, mysterious inner core elements – become revealed, and know their greatest gains.
This process is part of our existence after the resurrection of the dead. For it to occur, it had to be made part of our national being at the earliest stage of our history. This happened through the Akeidah. Yitzchok, in effect, died and was reborn. Techiyas ha-meisim became part of us for all time.
Because Yitzchok had to die and, in essence, begin anew, he was not destined to marry before this event. His mate was to join him only in the second stage of his life, the one he began after the Akeidah, so that his progeny could all bear the imprint of his transition.
This elevated form of death was now made available to Soro, and eventually to Avraham as well. No burial plot had been secured for any of them prior to the Akeidah, because the Land of Israel was meant to support this higher form of death, not the ordinary kind. Once this aspect had become part of the First Family, their subsequent deaths could find an appropriate location.
That place was the Ma’aras Ha-Machpelah. It is not called kepeilah, or double, but machpelah, that which doubles. The two-tiered cave certainly hints at a doubled life, one if which we spend some time in mortal existence, and then the rest of eternity in the next stage – a spiritual life. The cave is also machpelah, connoting doubling, meaning that the acquisitions of the soul are multiplied in value after what we ordinarily call death, especially as the more hidden parts of our neshamos are allowed to flourish and openly thrive.
At the time that tehiyas ha-meisim will become a widespread event, the nations of the world will attach themselves to the Jewish mission. They will gladly assume positions of support to a Jewish strategy for the world, subjugating themselves to its message. In our passage, this is why the Bnei Cheis as a group participate in the sale. It is a harbinger of the day in which the nations will validate the mission of Avraham’s children, and attach themselves to it.