Parshas Chayai Sarah 2007

This week we read Parshas Chayai Sara. When Sarah died, and Abraham had to buy a burial plot for her, he bought it from the prince of the land, a man named Efron. The Torah describes to us the entire give and take over the acquisition of the land that Sarah was buried in. Efron first offered to give the burial place to Abraham for free. “And Efron answered Abraham in the hearing of the children of Ches, … saying “No my master hear me, the field I have given to you, and the cave that is in it… bury your dead…” (Genesis 23:10-11) Abraham refused to take the gift, and insisted on paying for it (Verse 13). “And Efron replied to Abraham saying to him, My Lord, heed me! Land worth four hundred silver shekels, between me and you what is it? Bury your dead!. (Verse 14). “And Abraham heeded Efron, and he paid him the price he had mentioned…(Verse 16). The obvious question is, how could the Torah tell us that Abraham listened to Efron? Didn’t Efron tell him to take it for free?

Our Sages teach us that the name of Efron is spelled missing a letter. This teaches us that Efron was lacking in what he did. Efron was a person who talked a lot, but did very little. He is the example of the kind of person we must strive not to be.

When we listen to a person, we have to listen to what they really mean, not just to the words that come out of their mouth. When Abraham responded to Efron, he heard exactly what Efron said. Efron wanted full price and more for the land that he was giving Abraham. It wasn’t what he said; it was what he meant.

From Efron we learn that we must always be one who does, not one who talks. From Abraham we learn that we must hear what people really want, not just what they say.