Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Chayei Sarah: Ancestral Land

“Each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life, its strength; and so is man rooted to the land from which he draws his faith together with his life.” -Joseph Conrad

Our Matriarch Sarah dies and Abraham spends a veritable fortune to buy a plot to bury his wife. The Torah goes into painstaking detail as to the negotiations, the back and forth, the language each party used and the final sale price (400 shekel, the equivalent back then to buying a high-rise apartment building in Hong Kong).

It is curious the amount of time the text spends on Abraham’s purchase of land in Israel, his determination to buy the land at all costs and his refusal to accept it as a gift. The Ibn Ezra (on Genesis 23:19) suggests an answer.

He offers that there is something special, something unique about the land of Israel. He explains that out of all of the land on the planet, out of all of the countries in the world, Israel is the best place to be buried. It is the ideal resting place for the dead.

He adds one other comment. It is also the best place for the living.

Shabbat Shalom,



In memory of my grandmother, Mrs. Zahava Rosenthal, who died last week in New York and was buried in her ancestral plot, in Haifa, Israel. Attached are links to the eulogy I gave (original Hebrew or English translation).

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.