Parashat Chayei Sarah

By Rabbi David Cohen:

Avraham rose up from the presence of his dead and spoke to bnei Cheit (23:3)

It is intriguing to note that the words, bnei Cheit (children of Cheit), are mentioned nine times in our parshah and once in Parashas Vayechi (49:32). It is not as if these were laudable people. They were idolaters who were greedy and selfish – among other things. Yet, the Torah finds it important to underscore their negotiating with Avraham Avinu when he sought to purchase a plot of land to bury his wife. Chazal (Bereishit Rabbah 58:8) intimate this question. Rabbi Eliezer said, “How much ink is spilled and how many quills are broken, in order to write ‘bnei Cheit ’! Ten times, the Torah writes ‘bnei Cheit ’.

These ten citations correspond to the Aseres HaDibrot in order to teach that whoever assists in the business ventures of a tzaddik, righteous person, it is considered as if he has fulfilled the Aseres HaDibrot” Chazal ask the question, derive the lesson, convey the message, but what should we learn from it (other than the overriding importance of assisting a tzaddik in his financial affairs)? The Etz Yosef explains that Chazal are teaching us that although Bnei cheit were far from respectable people. They were barbarians whose entire demeanor was the antithesis of that of Avraham Avinu. It was the furthest from the mind to imagine them sitting down to the table with our holy Patriarch to discuss a business enterprise – one which was not a long-term arrangement, but a one-time deal which would net them just so much. Yet, for once, they acted like mentchen, decent human beings, deferring respect to the tzaddik who stood before them, someone who was acknowledged as the Nasi Elokim, Prince of G- d. This showed their desire to be connected with our tzaddik and what he represents.