There is a word that keeps popping up in the beginning of this week’s parasha that begs for an explanation, and that is the word שמע, listen. The Binei Cheis request of Avraham (Bereishis 23:6) שְׁמָעֵנוּ אֲדֹנִי, hear us, my Lord. Avraham then request for the Binei Cheis (Ibid verse 8) שְׁמָעוּנִי וּפִגְעוּ לִי בְּעֶפְרוֹן בֶּן צֹחַר, heed me, and intercede for me with Ephron the son of Zohar. Ephron then responds to Avraham (Ibid verse 11) לֹא אֲדֹנִי שְׁמָעֵנִי, no, my lord, heed me! Avraham then rejoins (Ibid verse 13) אַךְ אִם אַתָּה לוּ שְׁמָעֵנִי, rather, if only you would heed me. Ephron replies (Ibid verse 15) אֲדֹנִי שְׁמָעֵנִי, My lord, heed me! The Torah concludes (verse 16) with the words וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָהָם אֶל עֶפְרוֹ, Avraham heeded Ephron. Why all these request to listen and most of them are directed to Ephron?
Let’s take a look at some numbers and we can see, or better yet, hear, something amazing. The gematria of the name עפרן is 400. The word שמע, listen, equals 410. the Baal HaTurim (23:3) teaches us that the Torah mentions the בני חת, the Hittites, ten times in this parasha, and this reflects on the idea that one who validates a sale to a Torah scholar is akin to one who observes the Ten Commandments which have the letter ח ten times.
It is noteworthy that the difference in numerical value between the name עפרן and the word שמע is 10. Avraham was giving Ephron an opportunity to validate a sale of land to a Torah Scholar, i.e. Avraham, and Ephron exploited the situation for this material gain. When the Jews worshipped the Golden Calf they forfeited their declaration of נעשה ונשמע, we will do and we will listen. Nonetheless, the Zohar states that they retained the aspect of נשמע, we will listen. While Ephron forfeited the opportunity “to hear,” and be akin to one who observes the Ten Commandments, we have the fortune to constantly listen and learn and grow in our service of HaShem.
HaShem should allow us to continue listening to Him and to His Holy Torah and we should merit the time when it will be “heard” the in the cities of Yehudah and Yerushalayim the sounds of the groom and the sounds of the bride with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Have a wonderful Shabbos