Choosing a Burial Plot

Moshe Abarbanel   

How does one choose his last resting place? Should it be a quite place?  A place with  a view?  Near family?   Last week when Sarah died Avarham found himself with this exact problem.  Some people make plans for internment years in advance.  It seems that Avaraham did not.  Did he just accidently choose to bury Sarah in Hebron? Did he like the location?  We are given many details in the parsha that may hint to what Avaraham was doing.   First he goes specifically to the Beni Chait and humbly requests “achuat kevar” a possession of a burying place.  He also beseeches the elders to intercede on his behalf to speak with Ephron the son of Zohar “that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he has” (Genesis 23:9) .  Avarham has the presence of mind in middle of his grief to request a specific location to establish burial plot for Sarah and ultimately himself and the other Avos and Emaos.  If this is so what was so special about this location?

Rashi may give us a hint in Genesis 23:2.  He is bothered by Torah name for city Hebron, Kirath-Arba. “And Sarah died in Kirath-Arba the name is Hebron”.   Rashi gives two explanations on the name Kiraiath-Arba, literally the city of four.  Rashi states in his second explanation is “because of the four pairs that were buried there, man and wife; Adam and Eve, Avraham and Sarah, Issac and Rebekah and Jacob and Leah.”   Why did Avaraham  want to establish burial monument linked to Adam the first man?  He seems to know according to Rashi that Adam and Eve were buried there and Avaraham specifically wants to bury Sarah with them.  What is the connection?

I believe that Avarham knew that just as in life he and Sarah represented to people the true ideas of Monotheism that their resting place had to accomplish the same.  But even more, he desired to link their discovery of One True God to first man because  Adam HaReshon was the first Monotheist.  Created by God directly  Adam knew his maker and understood that there were no other deities besides HaShem.  He tried to fulfill God’s Will (even though he originally failed).   Over the next twenty generation between Adam and Avaraham people forgot the one true God.  Avaraham and Sarah reestablished the concepts of Monotheism that Adam lived by.   So it was fit to link their permanent resting place with Adam thereby linking the first Monotheist with reestablishers  of Monotheism.

Rambam [1] says all altars were erected at the cite of "Adams creation": the altars of David, Noah, Abraham, etc. Why? This is so that all subsequent generations should recognize monotheism, i.e., God.  Knowing that we are "created" and created by HIM, is emphasized by linking all sacrifice to the location of Adam's "creation", that location being exclusively identified with man's creation, and thus, the Creator.

[1] Hilchos Bais Habechira chap 2; halachos 1 and 2.