Chayei Sarah – Kibbush and Chizuq
1. Buying Maâ€™aras haMachpeilah
It is interesting to note that Judaismâ€™s holiest sites were not conquered but bought. Parashas Chayei Sarah opens with Avraham purchasing the Maâ€™aras haMakhpeilah and the fields around it. Later, Yaakov buys the city of Shechem from Canaanite princes, the sons of Chamor (Bereishis 33:19). Similarly, Shemuel II concludes with David haMelekh purchasing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem from Aravnah the Jebusite.
R. Yoseph Ber Soloveitchikztâ€l, explained the meaning of qinyan, acquisition, in a speech given to the student body of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in the Spring of 1985. He noted that the root of the word qinyan is /×§× ×”/, to manufacture. (It is also used in lesaqein, to repair.) This is because of the origin of the concept of commerce. Originally people owned what they made, the animals they raised, the plants they planted. The need for people to acquire things they were not personally able to make, lead to trading, barter, and eventually money. Purchasing uses the same root, because purchasing is a surrogate for manufacturing things yourself. I manufacture this, or provide this service, convert it into money, and exchange that effort for someone elseâ€™s manufacture or effort in providing that.
Once something is bought you have therefore also acquired its entire history. The person who sold it to you has effectively declared that â€œall I have done to increase its value was as a surrogate for you doing it yourself.â€
2. Kibbush vs Chazaqah
R. Aharon Soloveitchikztâ€l (Logic of the Mind, Logic of the Heart) writes of two kinds of acquisition. The first is â€œchazaqahâ€, holding. It comes from Hashemâ€™s commandment to Adam â€œto guard the garden and keep itâ€. (Bereishis 2:13) This is the gift of reaching unto things through cultivation, work and dedication.
The other kind of acquisition R. Aharon calls â€œkibbushâ€, grasping. This kind of activity comes from Hashemâ€™s other imperative to Adam, â€œbe fruitful and multiply, fill the earth vekhivshuhah â€” and subdue itâ€. (Bereishis 1:28)
In approaching the Benei Cheis, Avraham describes himself as â€œgeir vetoshav anokhi imakhem â€” I am a stranger and a resident amongst youâ€. Avraham lived in two worlds, in the spiritual as well as the physical. He was amongst the Benei Cheis, but also apart from them. This gave Avraham two tools: chazaqah and kibbush.
The Western World is based on â€œmight makes rightâ€, â€œkochi veotzem yadi asa li es hachayil hazeh – my might, and the strength of my hand won me this battleâ€. The spirit of the West is â€œthe hand of Eisavâ€” the spirit of kibbush. Avraham didnâ€™t feel the need to enforce his will with power, it was okay for him to be a geir.
Without kibbush society would not progress. We would have no new science or engineering, no new territory, evil would not be vanquished. But kibbush must have limits. While Hashem did command â€œvekhivshuhahâ€, He certainly wanted man to rise above the level of warring tribesmen.
The other is the gift of cultivation, of work and dedication and of reaching unto things and people through love, consideration, and guidance (â€œchazaqahâ€). We can attain great heights through kibbush, but we canâ€™t just constantly be looking to go further and to extend, we have to also develop what we have.
R. Aharon finds in this distinction the source of the gender differences in halakhah. Males have a tendency toward uncontrolled kibbush, while women are more focused on chazaqah. This places women on a higher spiritual plane than men. When a woman says â€œsheâ€™asani kirtzono â€” for He has made me according to His Willâ€, it is implied that men are further from that Will than she is. Womenâ€™s innate qualities as the last created creature (Rabbi Soloveichik words this as â€œthe crown of Creationâ€), are already aimed at the fulfillment of G-dâ€™s ultimate desire for mankind. The reason for the extra mitzvos and extra ritual placed on males is to reign in that uncontrolled kibbush.
What is that “ultimate desire for mankind”?
3. The two Batei Miqdash
R. Chaim Soloveitchik holds that there is a distinct difference between the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel that came with the first commonwealth and that of the second.
The first Temple did not create a permanent qedushah (holiness). The reason given is â€œthat which was acquired through conquering is lost through conquering. The First Commonwealth built on land acquired in the wars of the days of Yehoshua and the Shoftim (Judges), was itself conquered.
The Second Commonwealth was “merely” an immigration of a group of Jews who decided to live in the land as Jews. It is predicated on the mitzvos done there, the education of children raised there. That kind of sanctity can not be undone. â€œQidshah lishaâ€™atah viqidshah leâ€™asid lavo – it was sanctified for its time and sanctified for all time to comeâ€. Even today, Har Habayis (the Temple Mount) has the sanctity of the Temple.
R. Aharon understands his grandfatherâ€™s words in the light of this distinction. The first commonwealth was founded on kibbush. It therefore had an inherently inferior qedushah. The second commonwealth was built by chazaqah. When Hashem tells Zecharia, â€œNot by force and not by might but by My spiritâ€, He is saying that the second Temple should be build on chazaqah, not kibbush, to lead to a permanent sanctification. “Neqeivah tesoveiv gever.”
Rav Aharon Soloveitchik notes Chanukahâ€™s connection to Sukkos. According to Seifer haMakabiim, on the first Chanukah people who had just missed being oleh regel, going up to the beis hamiqdash, with their esrog and lulav, did so then at their first opportunity. Beis Shammai taught that one should light 8 lights the first night of Chanukah, 7 the second, learning from the 70 bulls offered for the mussaf on Sukkos, which also declined in number each day: 14 the first day, 13 the second, etc… Rav Yosi bar Avin or R’ Yosi bar Zevida explains that Beis Shammai are emphasizing the link between Chanukah and Sukkos. (We follow Beis Hillel, and teach that the ideal is to increase as the holiday progresses. They do not deny the connection; but rather Beis Hillel asserts an overriding halachic principle — that we increase in holiness over time.)
The concept of being a geir vetoshav is at the center of the similarity between the two holidays. Sukkos is a time when the toshav leaves his home to experience geirus in the Sukkah. Chanukah is also about the gerâ€™s Chazaqah, the rededication of the second Beis haMiqdash. Not about winning the war â€“ the war wouldnâ€™t be over for years â€“ but about being able to live in Israel as Jews, with access to the beis hamiqdash.
4. Qinyan as Chazakah
We go from looking at Rav Aharonâ€™s elaboration of his grandfatherâ€™s concept to using his brotherâ€™s, R. Yoseph Berâ€™s insight to extend R. Aharonâ€™s concept of chazaqah to things acquired by commerce as well. To buy something is to exchange a token of the chazaqah you have put into something else, and trade it for chazaqah on this object.
By combining these ideas, we understand why Chevron, Har haBayis and Shechem were bought. Buying is a means of chazaqah. It is inherently holier than if our claim were based on military victory.
The same idea can be used to understand why the gemara in Qiddushin (2a) asserts that the form of marriage is identical to that of a qinyan. This idea is proven from a gezeirah shavah (a comparison of terms) between the phrase â€œki yiqach ish ishah â€” when a man takes a womanâ€ (Devarim 22:13), and Avrahamâ€™s offer to Efron â€œnasati keseph hasadeh, kach mimeni â€” I have placed money for the field, take it from meâ€ (23:13). In both cases the expression of â€œqichah â€” takingâ€ is used.
(The halakhah is not teaching that women are châ€v bought and sold like chattel. You don’t need a gentile slave’s consent in order to buy him. Purchasing’s two parties are owner and buyer, not buyer and item bought. The fact that the wedding can not occur against her will shows that it isn’t a purchase. Second, the laws of onaâ€™ah â€“ overcharging and underpaying â€“ would apply, and the value of the ring would need to be within 1/6th of the brideâ€™s value.)
In the case of Chevron, Avraham was acquiring the entire field â€” from the beginning of time until the end. By making marriage assume the qinyan format we are acknowledging that the bride and groom were literally made for each other, and hopefully will remain together until the end of time. By using the form of chazaqah, the marriage, qiddushin, is on a higher plane. Like the maâ€™aras hamachpeilah, like the second Beis haMiqdash, the qiddushin thereby has the possibility of being an eternal holiness.
5. Gevurah and its Resolution
In Avos 4:1, Ben Zomah says â€œWho is a gibor, a warrior, one who is koveish his yeitzer, his inclination [toward evil]â€. This is a proper use of kibbush, to vanquish evil, to change it into a tool for serving Hashem. It is interesting to note that the one who uses kibbush is called a â€œgiborâ€, from the same root as a word for man in the sense of specifically male as used in our pasuq in Zechariah â€“ â€œgeverâ€.
We find the term gibor in a prophecy about the messianic age. â€œHow much longer will you stray, back-slidden daughter, and remain hidden and withdrawn? For Hashem has created something new on the earth, neqeivah tisoveiv gever â€” woman shall encircle man.â€ (Yirmiah 31:20-22)
We can attain great heights through kibbush, but we canâ€™t succeed in establishing a Paradise on earth unless we couple it with chazaqah. At the end of history, the Jewish people, the fallen daughter, the ger vetoshav, will return to Hashem. The principle missing in this galus, the balance of kibbush and chazaqah, will be restored. As man realizes that he is a spiritual being, thereby being freed from needing to be overly focused on the giborâ€™s battle against the yeizer. The neqeivah, the feminine side, chazaqah, will be restored to its rightful role.
In the time of the Messiah, there will be no pursuit of kibbush, rather everyone will pursue the gift of chazaqah. So womenâ€™s Divine endowment and her mandate to be true to that endowment is consonant with humanityâ€™s spiritual and moral goals in the Messianic Era.