The Twosome of Greatness

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By Rabbi Naftoly Bier

We learn in this week’s Parsha that אברהם אבינו, our patriarch Avrohom, acquired a burial place for his deceased wife from the בני חת, the children of Heth. It was מערת המכפלה, the cave of Machpelah (the double cave), (where couples were buried). Avrohom Avinu specifically desired this place due to that אדם וחוה, Adam and Eve were buried there.

Obviously, it was not known to everyone else. If so, it would have been at least a ‘tourist attraction’, or even more so, a place of worship and respect for the progenitors of the human race. They, having been created by G-d Himself. How then, did Avrohom know they were buried there?

On a ‘simple’ level, Harav Avrohom Wachtfogel זצ”ל explains that a person who has attained an exceedingly high level of קדושה, spirituality can be sensitive to holiness emanating from a distinct location. The family of חת, Heth, and their leader עפרון, Ephron, could walk by it and not sense any uniqueness.

The בעל הטורים (and some מדרשים) in פ’ וירא, Genesis: 18, 17, says that when the verse states “ואל הבקר רץ אברהם”, “and to the cattle ran Avrohom”, it can be read that he ran after the calf that had run away to מערת המכפלה, the aforementioned cave. In this manner, he discovered the burial place of אדם וחוה, thirty-eight years before the passing of שרה, Sarah.

What is the connection that due to his alacrity, zealousness to provide a tongue to his guests, he would merit a divine intervention, that the calf would run specifically to מערת המכפלה?

To be buried in the same place as אדם וחוה necessitated that one had to develop a level of spiritual greatness commensurate to them. What supreme-level attributes can be attributed to their ‘story’?

The Ramchal, in מסילת ישרים, the Paths of the Just, chapters 6-9 delineates that the trait of alacrity, zealousness and its grave importance in the manner it affects everyday life, and how it affects the true spiritual growth and essence.

A person is born, created with two drives, רוחניות, which means to soar (רוח – spirit, wind) above the normal self-involved tendency of a person, which is גשמיות; the overriding propensity to desire comfort and disdain any form of hardship, toil, or effort.

In Chapter 6, he writes: You can observe that man’s nature weighs very heavily upon him. For the earthiness of the physical is overwhelming. Therefore, a man does not want to exert himself and labor. But he who wants to merit to the service of the Creator must strengthen himself against his own nature, mustering strength and zeal…If you ask the ‘lazy’ person [to explain his behavior], he will confront you with numerous quotations of the sages, verses from scripture, and logical arguments all of which instruct him, according to his distorted mind, to be lenient with himself, and to leave himself in the tranquility of his laziness… (Chapter 7) For the trait of Zeal is a very high spiritual level of Shelemut (perfection) which a person’s nature impedes him from attaining at the current time. But he who strengthens himself and takes hold of it as much as he can, will, in the future world, merit to truly attain it. The Creator, may His Name be blessed, will bestow it to him as a reward for his striving for it during the time of his service.

The Ramchal teaches that perfection means that one is constantly, relentlessly with unbridled enthusiasm yearning every moment to subjugate one’s total being to Hashem. This is the path to eternal embracement by Hashem in the world to come, for this is the manifestation of negation, of one’s physicality.

How does one attain such a level? The Ramchal continues: But for a man in whom this longing does not burn as it should, a good advice for him is to act with zeal by force of will in order that this will bring an inner awakening of this longing in his inner nature. For the external movement rouses the inner ones and certainly the external movement is more in his power than the inner ones. Thus, if he exercises what is in his power to do, this will lead him to also attain what is not in his power. For an inner joy will awaken within him and a desire and longing through the power of acting fiery, externally, by the force of will. This is what the prophet said- “let us know, let us run to know the L-rd” (Hoshea 6:3) and “After G-d they will go, who shall roar like a lion”(Hoshea 11:10)… (Chapter 8) However, that which may intensify this rousing is looking into the many benefits that the Holy One blessed be He does with a man at all moments and times and the great wonders G-d performs for him from the time of his birth until his final day. For the more one looks into and contemplates these things, the more he will recognize his enormous debt to G-d Who bestows good to him. This looking into will cause him to not grow lazy or lax in His service. For since it is impossible for him to repay G-d, blessed be His Name, for His goodness, he will feel that at least he can thank His Name and fulfill His commandments.

The גמרה teaches is “אגרא דפירקא רהיטה” the reward for attending a Torah Lecture is one’s enthusiasm to go there. When one doesn’t not only ‘delay’, but ‘runs’ with alacrity and purpose, one is negating his self-centeredness. ‘He doesn’t come late to daven due to being tired, other interests, cold, heat, etc., but knows that one has to attend punctually all that revolves regarding his dedicated service to Hashem.” That was exemplified by Avrohom ‘Hurrying’ to take care of his guests, and Rivka hurrying to give Eliezer water and then his camels.

Avrohom Avinu was the world’s paragon of Chessed. The Ramchal in Chapter 19 instructs that the level of Chessed that one attains is always thinking of others no matter if it is a respectable person or not, or even an animal is what defines a truly righteous person.

Due to Avrohom’s personifying these two traits of complete subservience to Hashem and His world, alacrity and chessed, he was blessed to join Adam and Eve.

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