Parashat Hayyei Sarah
Genesis 23:1 – 25:18
– Well, he’s going to need a grave now. That’s for sure. It’s a shame about the old lady, Sarah. Dying all alone like that. Now I hear that Abraham is coming in to Hebron. He’s heard that she died and whaddaya bet that he’s going to want to bury her right here? He’ll want a grave. The question is, do we, as the Elders of the Sons of Het, let him have one? We’ll go around the circle. What do you say?
– I say – Why? He’s not one of us. He’s a stranger. He’s strange, in general. He moves around and leaves his wife all alone?
– You’re right, he moves around. He’s never really learned our ways. He’s never settled anywhere permanent. He’s a drifter. He doesn’t have a piece of land to his name.
- He’s done all right for a drifter. He thinks he’s better than us. He keeps aloof. He builds his own altars instead of using ours. He’s not one of us. We don’t owe him a thing. Let him go back where he came from and bury her there.
– It’s a long way back. What’s he gonna do with the body all that time?
– He should’ve thought of that before he came here. I say no way.
– I hear he’s got some Egyptian connections. Let him embalm her and take her home.
– Quiet! Quiet! Let’s get serious, please. This is no time for jokes!
– I say no grave. We pack him up with a piece of bread and a jug of water and send him off into the desert for all I care.
– Wait. Don’t you see, if he buys a grave he settles down. He’ll stay close by. There’s business to be done. Admit it: he’s got some good-looking flocks.
– And he’s got a son, don’t you know. My daughter has been pestering me for ages to try to get hold of him. But the old man is never interested in talking. Now this changes things. The way I see it is – We make one deal, then we make another. Right?
– Too bad about the old woman, dying like that without any family around. What ever happened to that son of theirs, anyway?
– Sometimes people say they’ve seen him. He wanders the fields like a lost sheep, with a dazed look on his face, like he’s seen the devil, and he doesn’t say much. Sometimes the local girls make fun of him. But he doesn’t seem to even hear them. I doubt that he’s much of a catch now.
– I did not sacrifice my son to Moloch last year to now see this alien insinuate himself into our land and displace us!
– Oh calm down! He’s no different from us than I am from you. I even hear that, just like you, Abraham was thinking of sacrificing his son, also.
– I hear that that’s what did in the old lady. Died of heartbreak.
– She was the one against your precious sacrifice, not him. And she’s dead.
– I say, what’s the big deal? So he buys a grave? How much room does a little old lady take up, anyway? Okay, so he’ll probably want enough room right next to her for him, too, when the time comes. I hear those people have cash. What do we have to lose?
– He’s not burying anyone next to my people, he isn’t. If he’s going get land for a burial there better be enough land all around it to keep it good and separate from us. It’s going to have to be someone who’s willing to part with a nice piece of real estate. And it isn’t me.
– It’s not going to be my land , either. I don’t care what he’s willing to pay. This land has been my family’s for so many years no one can remember. Anyone who sells to Abraham is no Son of Het!
– Well, I am as much a Son of Het as you are, and I say different. I have a big field that I’ve been trying to get rid of for a while. No one wants it with that giant double cave stuck right in the middle. They say the cave is haunted, that it has spirits of the ancestors in there. Maybe Isaac wandered in there and that’s what spooked him. But if I can sell it to Abraham we can all walk away happy. It’s a win-win.
– No! I’ll buy it. Just so Abraham can’t get it.
– Good. The price is 400 shekel.
– 400 shekel. Are you crazy?
– Oh come on. What’s 400 shekel between friends, between two upstanding Sons of Het?
– That’s highway robbery! You’ll never get that much from me or anyboy, let alone from that drifter!
– Just watch me. They don’t call me “Master of the Deal” for nothing.
– Sons of Het! All in favor of allowing Efron to try to make a deal with Abraham, raise your staffs.
– The motion carries.
Rabbi David Greenstein
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image: Redmond Caves by Greg Shine, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Photo in the Public Domain.