The Jews and the Cave of Machpela in Hebron
from "The Lubavitcher Rebbe
"Abraham rose, and he bowed down to the people of that region, the
children of Heth." (Gen. 23:7)
Although Abraham's prostration
was simply a symbol of his gratitude, the Midrash considers it
to have been improper. God Himself had promised the land to Abraham, so
he should not have shown such subservience to the rulers.
Indeed, this should serve
as a ringing lesson concerning the approach we must take to our rights
over the Cave of Machpela in Hebron particularly, and the Land of Israel
in general. God's promise to give the Land to the Jews is something that
must be proudly proclaimed, and not supplanted by subservience and prostration
before the nations of the world. 1
"Efron's field in
Machpela facing Mamre - the field, the cave within it, and every tree
within its perimeter - was confirmed as Abraham's purchase, in full view
of the children of Heth and of all who came to the gate of his city."
It is stated in the Midrash
(Bereishit Rabbah 79:7) that there are three places in the land
of Israel over which the Jewish people established their ownership incontrovertibly:
the Cave of Machpela in Hebron, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and Joseph's
tomb in Shechem. The sale of each of these was clearly recorded in the
Torah as having been finalized, at full value, without any shadow of dissension.
It is ironic to note that
Jewish control over just these three places has become hotly contested
in recent times. Darkness and concealment lead to distortion. A nation's
lack of confidence and pride in their own validity and identity leads
others to doubt it as well. Only if we are unequivocally proud in our
identity and convinced of our rights of ownership can we illuminate others.
© 2001 CHABAD OF CALIFORNIA / WWW.TORAHONLINE.COM
1 Sichot Kodesh 5729, vol. 1, p. 121.
2 Sichot Kodesh 5739, vol. 1, pp. 273-276.