Nelly Shulman

Between you and me

Oh, how often do we hear these words! “What’s a paltry couple of hundreds between you and me?” “Between you and me, I have seen her in a better shape.” “Between you and me, this is not his best performance.” We use this expression as a marker of intimacy, a sign of camaraderie between friends.

Ephron the Hittite uses it in the same way while discussing with Abraham his request to purchase the burial site after the death of Sarah. אֲדֹנִ֣י שְׁמָעֵ֔נִי אֶ֩רֶץ֩ אַרְבַּ֨ע מֵאֹ֧ת שֶֽׁקֶל־כֶּ֛סֶף בֵּינִ֥י וּבֵֽינְךָ֖ מַה־הִ֑וא וְאֶת־מֵתְךָ֖ קְבֹֽר׃, – says Ephron.

Really, what is a four hundred shekels between friends, especially bearing in mind that Ephron has already promised to give to Abraham both the cave he was asking for and the field where it was situated for free!

Nachmanides explained that Ephron quoted Abraham the price he or his forebears had paid when they had bought the field. However, Tur ha-Aroch writes on this verse: “Our sages understood Ephron as having overcharged Avraham, and they describe Ephron as an individual who says a lot but falls far short in his performance of what he promised.”

We all know such smooth talkers. Between you and me, it is better not to fall for them.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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