Eretz Yisrael- Our Legacy
By: Rabbi Dani Zuckerman
Avraham arrives in Chevron with two clear goals in mind. Obviously he wants to bury Sarah, but there is a second goal guiding his activities in the beginning of our parsha. In both pesukim 4 and 9, Avraham requests from the Bnei Cheis not only a burial plot, but an “אחזת קבר”. Throughout the negotiations, the Bnei Cheis do not explicitly acknowledge this aspect of Avraham’s request, but at the end of the episode, we are told that Avraham indeed accomplished his goal.
"ויקם שדה עפרון…לאברהם למקנה לעיני בני חת…ואחרי כן קבר אברהם את שרה אשתו…ויקם השדה והמערה אשר בו לאברהם לאחזת קבר מאת בני חת"
ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ Initially, Avraham purchased the field and it was a “מקנה”, but when he buried his wife Sarah in the cave, it became the “אחזת קבר” he had been seeking.
ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ What is the difference between a “מקנה” and an “אחזת קבר”? Why was it so important to Avraham that he possess the latter? How did he come about that possession?
ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ We learn from the halachos of הקדש that the difference between a שדה מקנה- purchased field- and a שדה אחוזה- inherited field- is in the long term attachment of a property to its owner. The halacha of course recognizes purchases and other transactions and the property rights of any legal owner. However, property that is purchased lacks a certain quality found in property that is inherited. Purchased fields belong to their owner until the next Yovel, when they will revertֲ back to the seller. Inherited property remains in possession of the family for all time.
ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ ֲ Avraham Avinu was clear with the Bnei Cheis that he didn’t want a merely utilitarian relationship with the field and its cave. He didn’t only want the legal right to bury Sarah. He wanted to establish a legacy, a permanent relationship with the field which would last for all time. The Torah tells us that he indeed got what he wanted, but not because he paid the full price of the field. It was the burial of Sarah which made the field an אחוזה. Perhaps the significance of burial specifically is that a burial plot is a prized family possession, a piece of land forever stamped by that family’s identity. When Avraham paid Efron’s price, it was a מקנה; when he buried Sarah it became an אחוזה.
Ibn Ezra (23:19) explains that Avraham Avinu’s acquisition of מערת המכפלה is the first actualization of הקב”ה’s promise to give Eretz Yisrael to Avraham and his children. Avraham Avinu teaches us that to realize הקב”ה’s promise, it is not sufficient to legally acquire the land; we must invest our very selves in it and make it a legacy for all generations. Eretz Yisrael only becomes an אחוזה when we dig our roots deep in the land and treasure it as if our identity is wrapped up in it.
In the last four weeks, the phrase אין לנו ארץ אחרת has taken on new meaning. Our enemies believe that, like the French in North Africa, we are colonialists who can be driven away by a sustained campaign of terror. Klal Yisral’s response has been impressive on many levels, but perhaps the most basic concept underlying everything else is that we are expressing the deep emunah first displayed by Avraham Avinu in his negotiations with the Bnei Cheis. We know that Eretz Yisrael is our אחוזה, our legacy, הקב”ה’s gift to us and the land which defines our very identity. We therefore trust in הקב”ה that, if we are deserving, no enemy can take this land away from us.
May הקב”ה grant us סייעתא דשמיא to quickly see the fulfillment of our tefillos- שתעלנו בשמחה לארצנו ותטענו בגבולנו.
 This impacts the halachos of הקדש in terms of what happens if a field was donated to the beis hamikdash and then redeemed by someone other than the מקדיש. The halacha distinguishes in this scenario between a שדה מקנה and a שדה אחוזה. See Bechukosai 27:16-24
 See Ramban 23:4
Shiur ID: 9320