Avrohom was tested ten times by Hashem. Most Rishonim learn that the tenth and final test was Akeidas Yitzchok. However, Rabbeinu Yonah in Avos writes that the final test was in this week’s parshah! The aggravation that Avrohom had with the קבורה was an even greater test than his willingness to sacrifice his own son!
Avrohom was coming after the Akeidah, an emotionally draining experience, to find that Soroh had died. In the midst of this stressful time, he had to deal with a very difficult and conniving individual. Usually, our reaction to an individual who is not being menschlich with us is to wonder why we should be menschlich in return. The general feeling is often that we have a heter to lash out at others because of our fragile emotional state.
Yet, Rav Dessler points out that the posuk tells us, “Avrohom prostrated himself.” He treated Efron like a person deserving of kovod. Avrohom treated him like a צלם אלקים despite his personal circumstances and Efron’s conniving. Avrohom’s attitude was: מפני שאני בצער לא צריך השני לסבול - “Just because I am in pain, the other person does not have to suffer.”
This incident is the ultimate test – the test of בין אדם לחברו. The two factors of being under the greatest of stress and being confronted with a person who is lacking proper scruples did not deter him from showing derech eretz. According to Rabbeinu Yonah, this was the ultimate test that Avrohom Avinu successfully completed.
We all face stressful days and rude individuals. Are we able to stand up to the test? And if we do not, how will our children learn?
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School