When Sarah passes away, Avraham seeks out a burial place for her — the cave then belonging to Efron the Hittite. Efron shows us how to say much, and do little. Or more accurately, as Rashi says, “even a little he did not do.” Efron said to Avraham, “The cave is a gift, please take it to bury your dead.” But Avraham recognized that Efron was saying this for public consumption, and indeed Efron said later, “what is 400 silver coins between me and you?”
In the end, the coins weren’t the regular ones in circulation, but much more valuable ones “good for the money-changer.” They were Centurion coins, each one hundred times the value of a regular silver coin.
At that point, at end of the story, the Torah drops the letter Vav from the name Efron, such that it can be read Afran — from the word “Afar,” dirt. Through his dishonest speech and interest in only the money, he proved himself an animalistic man of the earth, rather than an elevated man with a higher focus. Obviously, we can and should strive to do better in our own lives!
This past week the author of our popular Yom Tov class, Rabbi Yehuda Prero, lost his father Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Prero a”h of Chicago. May he and his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org