Monday, January 16

Secrets of Chevron – The Cave of Machpelah – Part III

Article for the Month of Shvat

Secrets of Chevron – The Cave of Machpelah - Its Importance and Connection to Every Jew

Chapter 3

יעקב ולאה            יצחק ורבקה             אברהם ושרה              אדם וחוה   
Adam and Eve – Abraham and Sarah – Isaac and Rivka – Jacob and Leah

The forefathers and mothers were deserving and worthy of accompanying Adam and Eve.

For many years, G-d prevented Sarah from conceiving until the moment when G-d made a covenant with Abraham and the Jewish nation by means of circumcision; in order to ensure that Isaac’s conception and that of every Jewish child will be at a high spiritual level from a circumcised father, who keeps the covenant with the Creator of the world, and from parents who observe the laws of family purity.

Abraham and Sarah were notified by the angels that they would bear a child within one year’s time, and in fact Isaac was born not 9 months after the circumcision but 12 months, in order to publicize that Sarah’s pregnancy[1] and the conception of Isaac began only after Abraham’s circumcision. That was one of the differences between Abraham’s two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael was born prior to Abraham’s circumcision.

Abraham was the first to circumcise himself with his own hands according to G-d’s commandment and with devotion at the age of 99 without any experience and without any of the instruments at our disposal today. Only after the circumcision were Abraham and Sarah worthy of accompanying Adam and Eve.
Therefore, on the third day following his circumcision, 1117 years after Adam and Eve’s disappearance, G-d revealed the secret location of their burial.

For preparation of the meal for the three angels, Abraham ran after the cattle (in Hebrew בקר) – switching the letters around we get קבר (a grave).  And the calf led him to Me’Arat HaMachpelah where he found Adam and Eve, a candle lit at their feet and a pleasant fragrance, a sweet savor. He therefore desired Me’Arat HaMachpelah (The Cave of the Patriarchs) as his burial site.  Abraham understood the hint and kept the secret.

Sarah – serves as a virtuous example for the daughters of Israel for all generations in observance of the three unique mitzvos of the Jewish woman:
טהרת המשפחה        הדלקת נר                הפרשת חלה         
Separation of Challah    Candle Lighting     Family Purity

In order to spread the word around the world of Sarah’s complete observance of these mitzvos, G-d made miracles for her throughout her entire life, with Abraham.
Separation of Challah – the challah that she baked in honor of the Shabbat, from which she separated challah, remained fresh and lasted for all of her guests until the following Shabbat.
Candle Lighting – Sarah’s Shabbat candles remained lit, by miracle, the entire week.
Family Purity – (the mitzvah of primary importance) a mitzva that is done secretly, how did Sarah serve as an example? G-d said: the mitzva of family purity that is observed privately – and the house (or tent) is what distinguishes the married Jewish woman because “his house” is “his wife” I will publicize around the world, by means of the cloud of the Omnipresent that was permanently connected to Sarah’s tent.

The cloud served on a permanent basis and revealed to all as publicity that announced and told the world that in this house live Abraham and Sarah in a holy and pure manner as delineated by G-d to the people of Israel[2]. Even in the following generations, every Jewish married woman, who observes the mitzvah of family purity, G-d waves the banner of the symbol of the cloud of the Omnipresent that announces of the blessing and holiness that exists substantially in her family and her descendants. (Shabbat, BaMe Madlikim 2, 6)

“And Sarah Died in Chevron”
At that time, Abraham and Sarah lived in Be’er Sheva, so what was Sarah doing in Chevron? When she realized that Abraham and her only son, Isaac, suddenly “disappeared”, she was worried, and she went to the only place where she could pour out her heart in prayer: to Me’Arat HaMachpelah, where she, as Abraham’s wife also knew who was buried there[3], and when she found out through prophesy about “the Sacrifice of Isaac (Akeida)", she passed away in Chevron near the cave.
After the Akeida, Abraham returned to Be’er Sheva and did not find Sarah. He understood well where he had to look for her. He went to Chevron and found her there near the cave.
When he came to buy her a grave site, he could only consider one place: Me’Arat HaMachpela.
He purchased it from Chet’s children with gold in a written contract, to hold forever.
Abraham bought it publicly and in accordance with the laws of all the countries and left no reason to oppose the sale.
Had Chet’s children known of the contents of the cave they would have never sold it, they turned it into a goldmine.
Abraham kept the secret that was revealed to him alone by the Creator of the world even after Sarah’s burial. Even the Torah hides for whom Kiryat Arba was named and it is mentioned in the Medrash in a secretive manner, for four giants who were there.
Only Two More Pairs Were Worthy of Accompanying Adam and Eve
Isaac[4] (יצחק) of his own free will was prepared to sacrifice his life in order to fulfill
G-d’s command and thus he was elevated to an elite level of an “unblemished offering” and atoned for the sin of Adam who rebelled against the command of the Creator, which as a result all of his descendants until the end of time, are born with the foreskin defect.[5]
Rivka – reached the level of Sarah.
As long as Sarah was alive the candles lit from Shabbat to Shabbat, there was blessing in her bread dough, and the cloud of the Omnipresent remained over the tent. When Sarah died, all of this stopped. When Rivka arrived, they were restored!
Jacob – the Chosen of the Forefathers – His Image Was the Only One Selected to be Engraved under the Throne of Glory:
The father of the twelve tribes, whose bed was complete, is the epitome of self-control in his demeanor. He lived in Lavan’s house for 7 years prior to marrying his wives, and the day of his wedding, he was 84 years old. Since the events of his life caused him to marry Leah first, the only one of the 4 mothers who was not barren and immediately bore children, Jacob could declare that Reuven, his first-born son, is also the first-fruits of his strength, a fact that embodies complete self-control, maintaining holiness and purity in his life.
Therefore, the image of Jacob was as the exact image of Adam and his beauty was as Adam’s beauty whose face shone in the upper lights as he was created by G-d. Therefore, the image of Jacob is the only one engraved under the Throne of Glory.[6]
Leah – excelled in her power of prayer, she was the first in the world to thank G-d – when she bore Yehudah[7] she gave thanks: this time I thank G-d. In contrast to the “perfect” Rachel, she had to make an effort to perfect what was missing in her. She goes out to check up on the brothers, their deeds and their virtues, and she prays day and night to G-d for a righteous husband. And with the power of her prayers she precedes Rachel in marrying Jacob. Her eyes are ripe with tears, but looking deeply into them reveals a strong will and a determination to achieve what she wants from G-d. It was worth it for her, she merited 6 tribes from which came the priesthood, the Levites and the kingdom until the coming of the Moshiach. She lived for years with Jacob and she was buried next to him in Me’Arat HaMachpela.
The Forefathers Guard the Secret of Me’arat HaMachpela
Abraham did not reveal the secret of the cave to his son, Ishmael and to Eliezer. Isaac did not have the same inheritance issues as Ishmael, since ‘Ishmael repented and put Isaac ahead of himself”.
Isaac did not reveal the secret to Esav when he realized the righteousness of Jacob “May he be blessed” and the wickedness of Esav “see that Gehenom is open below him”, with Jacob, the scent of the Garden of Eden entered and with Esav, the scent of Gehenom.
When Jacob returned, he paid Esav for his portion of the cave. “Jacob made a pile of all the gold and silver he brought from Lavan’s house and said to Esav: take this for your portion of the cave” (Rashi 50:5)
In his final moments, Jacob asked his sons to bury him in Me’Arat HaMachpela and mentions the forefathers and mothers buried there and avoided telling the secret of Adam and Eve. This secret must be kept until the inheritance of the Land of Canaan when we can ensure the rest of those buried in Chevron.
Therefore, the day does not begin in the Holy Temple without mentioning Chevron. In order to let everyone know that the dawn has risen and that the time for the “Tamid” sacrifice has arrived, the priests announce “The light of the East has shone until Chevron” (Yoma 3:1) in spite of the fact that Chevron is not East of Jerusalem, but South.
In order to remember the virtues of the forefathers we mention Chevron.
The daylight is the light of the complete redemption, and is dependent upon the merits of those resting in Chevron!
By Rabbi I. Ravad, founder of the Mikveh – Tikvah organization
[1] הריון -pregnancy -its numerical value is 271 – the number of days of the pregnancy (Nidda 38)
[2] The mitzvah of immersion in the mikveh with every detail and meticulously is required by every married woman regardless of having given birth, and Sarah demonstrates the existence of this precept despite being barren for so many years.
[3] “She envisions a field and buys it” (Eyshet Chayil) – that was Sarah as she also desired to buy this field as their gravesite
[4] יצחק -  Milestones of his life are hidden in Isaac’s name:
י – Abraham was tested 10 times (י = 10), and the 10th was the sacrifice of Isaac (עקידת יצחק)
צ – Sarah was 90 when she bore Isaac (צ = 90)
ח – Isaac was the first to be circumcised on the eighth day (ח = 8)
ק – Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (ק= 100)
[5]  "וימל אברהם את יצחק בנו בן שמונת ימים"  (and Abraham circumcised his son on the eighth day) – an acronym using the last letters of 4 words is תקון (correction) – the act of circumcision is a correction.
The circumcision repairs the man’s body, and the observance of mitzvot repairs his internal completeness.
[6] Under the Throne of Glory are engraved an Ox – king of the animal, a lion – king of the beasts and an eagle – king of the fowl
[7] י ה ו ד ה – Yehuda – his name is made up of G-d’s name and the additional letter  ד- for דוד - David, the King Moshiach that will come from him.

It is a mitzvah and one is permitted to copy to benefit the public, not for commercial purposes

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