With the opening of Parashah Chayei Sarah is the closure of Sarah's life. The passing of Sarah is mentioned little and the Torah focuses on the scene of the purchase of her burial. The engagement of Avraham with the Hittites and the continuous dialogue surrounds the famous sale of the cave of Machpelah. However, when taking a closer look at this chapter, the purchase is not merely of the cave of Machpelach but rather of the field that surrounds it.
To be precise, the number that the word 'me'arah' (cave) appears is five times while 'sadeh' (field) is eight.
What is the essence of this chapter about? Certainly, it seems that it is not about the lifetime of Sarah. It is not even about her burial. Rather this dialogue surrounds the first purchase of the Land of Israel, hence the focus on the field. Ephron, the Hittite initially offers Avraham the piece of land at no cost. Avraham, however insists that he buys it. Avraham insists that he utilize his own funds (i.e. experience a financial loss) in order to own this plot of land.
The Talmud in Masechet Berakhot(5a) teaches us that three gifts that Hashem bestowed upon us are acquired through hardship; Torah, the Land of Israel and the World to Come. The path to ownership of these three is through hard work. While it is a gift on one hand, the gift only becomes our gift when we exert the effort and pour our very selves into working for it.
Avraham was unwilling to take the gift of the Land of Israel for free. He understood and modeled for all of us that acquisition and accomplishment come through toil.
In helping our children and ourselves to love learning, we should be cautious not to 'spoonfeed' the material to them. Torah (and might I add, other disciplines as well) is exciting for those who spend the hours toiling over it. The toil is what brings a true sense of accomplishment. Those that learn to take ownership of their learning tend to continue to learn at higher levels, and well beyond the classroom. They come to exemplify a pillar of our school and of Judasim, Torah Lishma, learning for the sake of it. Let us continue to guide our children to a path of success by allowing them to experience true kinyan- ownership of their learning.
Why sell our children short?