In 2015, after a decade of ownership and management, The Sapir Organization closed the sale of Eleven Madison Avenue in New York City to SL Green Realty Corp. for $2.6 billion dollars, which was a record price for any single asset transaction in the American real estate market.
Eleven Madison Avenue is a 30 story, 2.3 million square foot office tower situated on a full city block between Park Avenue South and Madison Avenue, between 24th and 25th Streets. Located in Manhattan’s Midtown South neighborhood, the building is adjacent to the beautiful Madison Square Park and is within a stone’s throw to many of the neighborhood’s popular shopping destinations and the finest restaurants including the upscale renowned Eleven Madison Park restaurant.
The Sapir Organization acquired the property for $675 million in 2003. (Forbes.com)
Perhaps when quadrupling a multimillion-dollar investment it might get you into the newspapers and possibly some history books, however, it won’t grant you a pass for getting into the bible!
So how come in this week’s Parsha חיי שרה the Torah uses 18 psukim (verses) discussing the purchase of our Matriarch Sarah’s burial spot.
Avraham ends up paying Ephron Hachette four hundred silver coins of the world’s highest currency for this prized piece of real estate.
Another question that calls for an explanation is that those that are familiar with the laws of Jewish marriage know that a man can marry a woman by giving her money or something worth money. This law is revealed to us through a halachic process that was connected to the purchase of Sarah`s burial plot. Marriage and death are of the opposite emotional spectrums. Couldn’t the Torah find a happier, more loving biblical purchase to derive the laws of marriage?
I heard a very insightful thought from Rabbi Zev Leff. First, from a technical point, one should know that the real estate sale was almost an impossible sale. You see the family plots were for family members only. It was completely unheard of as if it would be comparable to selling one’s own mother. Secondly, this historical cave housed the remains of Adam and Chava. There was no legal way to transfer this property by the sale of any amount of money since the property was registered as a holy site with no legal way to transfer ownership.
Therefore, the locals were only allowing Avraham to bury Sarah in the cemetery on the outskirts of the city for non-residents. Avraham understood that to pull this off he was going to need the full cooperation of the greediest individual in the city. He tried to rack his brains to find a way to make it happen. Someone who loved money so much he might explode.
It just so happened that Ephron, the sole proprietor of this land by way of inheritance, fit the greedy description that matched exactly who Avraham was looking for. Therefore, Avraham demanded that he be present at the negotiations.
It was Ephron that came up with the real estate loophole. In his dialogue, he explained to Avraham that, “I cannot sell you my family burial plot since family burial plots are non-transferable. However, I have a huge field for sale, and it just happens to be that my family’s burial plot is in this field. If you purchase the field, you will receive the burial spot as a gift. Avraham astutely grasped the purchase strategy and closed the deal.
Chasidus explains what is going on here on a bit of a deeper level.
According to Kabballah, Sarah metaphorically represents the physical body. She understood that if G-d wanted people to be angels he would have created them as angels. Therefore, G-d created the materialistic physical world to elevate the physical world by fulfilling G-ds will in this world.
By fighting off the resistance from the animalistic, egocentric side and fulfilling G-ds will in this world she could transform her delicious homemade bread into a divine bread by feeding the poor and hungry instead of herself.
She understood as well that a human being has emotions such as love, and fear and they should be intertwined with one’s relationship with the Divine. When she contemplated how Hashem chose her with an enormous amount of love to channel divine energy through her purified thoughts and actions, it awakened the hidden love inside of her to perform these lofty actions.
The final revelation she understood was that when a person transcended the physical it not only transformed the mundane physical objects into holiness and embodied the emotions involved in the action, but it also elevated his/her physical body parts that were used to perform the commandment.
Avraham understood that Sarah’s Holy body was the first body since Adam to have reached this level of perfection. Such a body should only have comfort next to Adam and Chava. This body deserves to rest surrounded and enshrined in holiness. Such a property needs to be bought at any price.
Chasidus goes on to explain one final point regarding this real estate deal. Ephron came home to his wife with the best news ever, that he had landed the greatest real estate deal of the century. Avraham as well walked away from the deal with the feeling that this was the greatest deal of a lifetime since having purchased the holiest cemetery on earth! Each side felt that they had gotten the better end of the deal.
The reason why marriage laws are connected to this purchase. That in marriage Hashem desires that each spouse view themselves as receiving the better part of the deal.
This can be accomplished by adapting a healthy meditational practice.
Every husband and wife should take time to contemplate the good in their spouse.
Think about those special qualities that make your spouse unique and perfect for you. How your wife lovingly puts the children to sleep or how the husband makes up clever games to play with the children. Think about how hard he works to provide for them and how loyal and loving she is.
Block out any negativity and only find the positives.
Training your mind to focus on the bright side, will lead to a healthy amount of compliments and appreciation. Thus, this positive attitude should foster and promote the well-being of your relationship until each one firmly believes that they got the better end of the deal in the marriage!
Have a wonderful Shabbos!