Shlomo Ezagui

Working Hard for Your Money.

Silvia Brazzoduro

Sarah passes on, and her husband Abraham is looking for a burial site to fulfill his obligation to bury his wife. Abraham decides he would like to buy land in Hebron from Efron, and Efron offers to give the land for free as a gift. Abraham would not hear of it and insisted he wanted to pay for the land. Efron offers to sell the land to Abraham for its full worth, 400 silver talents. Abraham buys the land and puts his wife, Sarah, to rest there.

Abraham didn’t want Efron or his people to have any claim on the land in the future if he accepted it as a gift, so he paid Efron every penny he was asked for the land. In doing so, the land was totally acquired by Abraham for both Sarah and Abraham and all his children.

The Bible says Efron referred to Abraham as “a Godly prince in our midst.” Abraham was a special and important person among the people of that time. The law says, that when an important person accepts a gift from someone, the honor and pleasure received by the giver is considered a form of currency.

If Abraham had accepted the land as a gift, the value of his person would have been his form of payment to Efron for the land. Why did he still insist on paying the full price in cash?

Here’s a great life lesson and a great secret.

If Abraham had just accepted the land from Efron, Efron would have lost all rights to the land because Abraham had accepted it as a gift. However, Abraham would not have paid any money, and this is something he wanted to avoid.

True service to God and worthwhile life accomplishments must come through hard labor. Anything that comes to us without our having to make a sacrifice remains external and superficial to our lives. Without working hard for something, what we acquire (easily or for free) will not be permanent. It will lack any inherent value, and we will fail to fully appreciate it.

Abraham insisted on paying the full price for the burial site because he understood that “A man (to be happy and fulfilled) is born to toil,” and he must “earn” his keep. By paying premium money, Abraham was deeply connecting with this acquisition. 

Everything in this world has a spark of Godliness and, therefore, potential blessing, waiting to be redeemed when it is used in the service of God. The more we utilize and connect with what God created, for good, the more we free goodness into the world.

The way to involve our actual bodies in this process and bring the best of blessings to our lives — thereby connecting deeply with the act — is when we toil in hard labor to bring about good. “With the sweat of your brow, you will eat bread.” Working hard and putting in a lot of effort to get something done is a good thing in and of itself.

Mysticism teaches us that “Free bread is shameful bread.” The great Arizal tells us that the sweat one experiences when doing good deeds cleans the dirt from one’s soul.

Chapter 124

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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