No Negotiations by Josh Blachorsky


In Parashat Chayei Sarah, Avraham buys Ma'arat HaMachpeilah from Efron HaChiti. Initially, Efron offers to give Avraham the land as a gift. “Lo Adoni Shema’eini HaSadeh Natati Llach" “No my lord, listen to me, I have given you the field” (BeReishit 23:11). Yet when Avraham insists on paying for it, Efron sets the sum at an exorbitant 400 silver shekels “Oveir LaSocheir,” in negotiable currency. The Gemara (Bava Metzia 87a) states that each shekel Avraham used was worth 2,500 regular shekels, thus making the purchase worth one million shekels, a tremendous number for Efron to ask, considering he offered the land for free. Shockingly, though, we find that Avraham does not even attempt to negotiate. Why is this? The Midrash notes that the Tanach names only three places that were bought without negotiation and bargaining, insisting an important message is to be learned from all three. The fact that the Torah describes in detail the purchase of Ma’arat HaMachpeilah shows how great Avraham's love was for Sarah, and how he put the needs of a Meit (deceased individual) above all else. He wanted the best burial spot for her and was willing to pay a great amount to a shady person just to get it.

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