Love of the Land

For the week ending 14 November 2009 / 26 Heshvan 5770

Cave of Machpelah

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
The burial place of the Matriarch Sarah is the subject of the first part of this week's Torah portion.

The Torah describes the purchase of this plot by Avraham from Ephron the Hittite as including "the field and the cave within it" (Bereishet 23:17).

The cave in which Sarah was buried is known as the Cave of Machpelah (the "double cave"). One explanation of the name is the nature of its structure, one level on top of another. A second reason for the name is the fact that four couples were eventually buried there – Adam and Chava, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzchak and Rivkah, Yaakov and Leah.

The latter explanation is also the basis for the name Kiryat Arba ("the Town of Four"), which is associated with Chevron, the home of the Cave of Machpelah and its four buried couples.

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