Paying Retail?

Friday, 14 November, 2014 - 11:30 am

My memories of elementary school history tell me that the Dutch purchased Manhattan in 1626 for the equivalent of $24. Historians argue whether or not to peg the price at a little higher. Either way Manhattan was acquired as one of the greatest bargains in history.

Go back several thousand years to another account of land purchase, the acquisition of the Machpelah cave and surrounding land in Chevron by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite. The Torah tells us that Avraham paid 400 silver shekels for the plot of land, a price that far exceeded the actual value of the land. He didn’t haggle or argue for a lower price, even after Ephron went back on an offer to give it to him for free. (May have been the only time that a Jew paid retail, or even higher…)

There are three cities in Israel that our ancestors bought for money, Chevron by Avraham, Shechem by Yaakov and Yerushalayim by King David. Ironically Jewish rights to all three of those cities are hotly contested. Go figure… Unfortunately Biblical accounts of Jewish rights to Israel mean very little to the Arabs, the Europeans and the rest of the world, or sadly, to many Israelis.

The obvious question regarding Avraham’s purchase of the land in Chevron is, if G-d had promised the entire land to him, why bother paying for something that already belongs to you. At this point in Avraham’s life he had already heard this promise multiple times. He also made a quasi-Halachic act of acquisition of the land by walking the length and breadth of it years earlier. It was only that real recognized ownership would not take place until the times of Joshua. But why get ripped off paying for something that is already yours?

The Rebbe explains that this teaches us a valuable lesson. When it comes to matter of holiness free is not a good price. Spiritual growth and closeness to Hashem must be earned. If a person has some innate talents for Torah study or other good things, that should not prevent them from investing further effort into developing those talents even more and getting even closer to Hashem. Something that is free or comes to us without effort is lease appreciated and valued. When we work hard and achieve that is where there can be true appreciation.

I want to remind you again about the Mitzvah drive for Dr. David Kaufmann being run by Chabad of Dorval, QC (Rabbi Shmuel and Rivky Kaufmann). To participate please go to May Hashem grant Dovid Yisrael Ber ben Freida Gisha a complete and speedy recovery!

There are two adult educational opportunities coming up that are open to all. Lunch N Learn Downtown NOLA is coming up this Monday, the topic is Where’s Isaac? A look into the life of the least known Patriarch. Beit Midrash on the Bayou is being held on Thanksgiving morning from 9-11 AM. We will be serving a hot breakfast along with Yeshiva style learning.

The daily morning minyan is at 7 AM (Sunday at 8 AM) at Chabad Uptown. The daily evening minyan (Sunday-Thursday) is at Chabad Metairie – this week at 4:45 PM. Please let us know if you can participate to keep these important traditions strong.

We acknowledge the passing of a friend, Dr. J.E. Isaacson. Heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Isaacson and the family.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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