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November 01, 1991 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-11-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

-41 111101111 MININMINISININNIONINNow

!TORAH PORTION

THE ZIONIST ORGANIZATION
OF AMERICA
Metropolitan Detroit District.

Abraham Searches
For Holy Ground

RABBI RICHARD C. HERTZ

Special to The Jewish News

M

THE MUSICAL EVENT OF
THE FALL SEASON

PLAN NOW TO ATTEND:

Sunday, November 3, 1991, 7:30 p.m.
Masonic Temple Auditorium

FOR RESERVATIONS PHONE 569.1515

Transportation available.

ANNE GONTE SILVER, President Metro Detroit District/Sidney Silverman, National President, ZOA

The metro area's largest selection
of watches, bands and batteries!

For the area's largest seiection of watches.

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right on time since 1927

SOUTHFIELD: (Southfield & 12 Mile) 552-0080
PO NTIAC: (Voorheis & Telegraph) 333-2263
FARMINGTON HILLS: (Orchard Lk. & 13 Mile) 851-0440

54

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1991

Full service watch and jewelry repair.

WATCH BANDS

MT. CLEMENS: (Canal & Garfield) 263-7700
MADISON HEIGHTS: (12 Mile & Dequindre) 541-0808

achpelah Cemetery
in Detroit, well-
known for being the
site of hundreds of burials of
Jewish residents, is located on
Woodward Avenue just North
of Eight Mile Road. The
cemetery gets its name from
the portion of this week.
Just as when Abraham was
confronted with the reality of
the death of his beloved wife,
so in later centuries the need
for a burial place consecrated
as holy ground was always
the first act when Jews came
to the New World.
Here in Detroit, when Jews
first came in 1850 and one of
the Jewish residents died, the
first act of the newly created
Congregation Beth El was to
create a cemetery, now on
Lafayette Street.
This week's 'Ibrah portion
deals with the death of Sarah
who died in Kiriat-arba,
known today as Hebron. The
description is the first burial
in Scripture. Since the land of
Israel was largely sandy, it
became a common practice in
ancient times to bury in
caves, but with the death of
Abraham's wife, he was' sud-
denly faced with a decision of
what to do.
Abraham had been sear-
ching for a piece of earth that
would be his own. God had
promised Abraham and his
descendents the land of
Israel, but until now there
had been no place to bury the
dead. Moreover, Abraham
was not a resident of Hebron.
The sedra describes the
bargaining that follows in
typical ancient Oriental style.
Abraham asked permission of
the Hittites to possess the
land, permission to select one
of the caves for family tribal
vaults in which to bury his
wife.
But what was to be the
price of the burying place?
The negotiations went on
back and forth. Moreover,
there was no way of measur-
ing the price, for there were
no coins of standard size or
shape. Pieces of silver had to
be weighed before their value
could be ascertained. Four
hundred shekels of silver was
asked for, whereupon
Abraham weighed the she-
kels and the cave that was in
the Machpelah field became
his.

Dr. Hertz is rabbi emeritus of
Temple Beth El.

The incident is evidently
recorded in Scripture to
demonstrate how the land of
Israel over the centuries was
a place both for the living and
the dead. Moreover, it shows
how God's promise to
Abraham was fulfilled.
Others interpret the purpose
of the narrative in Scripture
to suggest that the purpose is
to indicate that although
Abraham came to the land of
Israel as a stranger, God's pro-
mise to make his name great,
was fulfilled even in his life-
time. It was demonstrated in
the way in which he was ad-
dressed by the men of Efron
as a "mighty prince."
(Genesis 23:6)
One commentator notes
that the place was designated

Shabbat
Chayye Sara
Genesis 23:1-25:18
Kings I 1:1-31

in the land of Canaan, lest
anyone think it was in the
land of the Philistines.
The cave became a posses-
sion of Abraham. Abraham
wanted to be buried in the
Holy Land of Israel. Abraham
himself, Isaac and Rebecca,
Jacob and Leah, were all to be
buried there. Jacob specifical-
ly commanded his son not to
bury him in Egypt but to
bring him to rest to be buried
in the cave of Machpelah.
(Genesis 47:28-41; 49:30)
In later centuries, the
Byzantines built a Christian
church in the area which was
later converted into a mosque
by the Moslems who had
gained possession of Kariat-
arbat. In time, both Jews and
Christians were prohibited
from praying inside the area.
After 1967, when Israel con-
quered the city, all faiths were
once more permitted to visit
the tombs.
The actual cave, which is
below the site, is presently in-
accessible. ❑

SYNAGOGUES

Oak Park Chabad
Melava Malka

Congregation Bais Chabad
of North Oak Park will host
its annual Melava Malka 8
p.m. Nov. 9 at Cong. Dovid
Ben Nuchim,
The speaker will be Rabbi
Chaim Dovid Kagan on
"Crossroads in History —
Reading the Chasidic Map."
For reservations, call Rabbi
Morozow, 967-4113.



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