Chayei Sarah – A plot of land

1 Sarah lived for one hundred and twenty seven years – that was her lifespan. 2 Sarah died in Kiryat Arba which is Hebron in the land of Caanan; Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and wept for her.

Genesis 23

On the day that Sarah died, Abraham’s life was like a broken glass – small fragile pieces of nothing that signified the end. At the moment of Sarah’s death, he stood alone. No laughter would ever sound the same to his ear. They were no different from other couples – one died first leaving the other behind to make the necessary arrangements for burial.

3 Abraham rose from his mourning and spoke to the sons of Heth saying: 4 I am an itinerant resident among you, give me possession of a burial plot with you and I will bury my dead before me.

Genesis 23

So Abraham became obsessed with the plot of land which was to be her grave. His grief drove him on, even though he would live long without her. For so many years he had been close to her but at that time he had to have permanent access to her remains.

16 Abraham listened to Ephron; Abraham weighed out the silver to Ephron, who had spoken in the presence of the sons of Heth: 400 silver pieces… 19 After that Abraham had buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the Machpelah field, which is near Mamre that is Hebron, in the land of Caanan.

Genesis 23

How could he place her in just any plot of ground? He had to be sure that he could always have access and be near her if he felt the need. The soil above her would be the closest to his heart. He stood alone with her memory and paid a steep price to keep her near.

18 May your fountains be blessed; and may you have joy in the spouse of your youth.

Proverbs 5

If he loved her, no one will ever know, but she had been his constant companion on the many twists and turns since they had left their home in the search of “the land” he was to be shown. On their journey he had put her in jeopardy more than once; did he ever consider why had she continued to accompany him?

7 Torrents of water cannot extinguish this love and rivers cannot wash it away.

Song of Songs 8

Who could fill the void she left? They had been in so many places before her death and yet they all seemed to flow together and meet at the foot of a cave.

Oak of Abraham drawing

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021

Mourning a beloved spouse

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