(Midrash Rabba) עשר פעמים כתיב בני חת כנגד עשרת הדיברות
In the merit of the ten negotiations that Abraham had with the Hittite people; his descendants merited the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.
Avrohom Avinu was already well through his life when his wife Sarah passed away. He had already demonstrated heroic strength by making his way through the challenges of exile, war, Bris Milah, and even the readiness to bring his son as a sacrifice.
If we are to go in ascending order the challenge surrounding his wife passing is considered a more difficult challenge than the earlier trials. How could this be? His wife lived 127 years full years -today we bless people to live until 120! As much as it must have caused heartache and sadness, it wasn’t really a sad story, so why is it considered the biggest test of his life?
The answer is that it wasn’t the death of Sarah, per se, that was the hardship and challenge, but the events surrounding the purchase of her burial plot from the Hittites that was the problem.
Abraham, by this time had already become one of the most celebrated individuals on Earth. Even the Hitites greeted him by saying “You are a Prince of G-d amongst us.” Buying a small parcel of land, which to them was insignificant, should have been considered an insignificant event in the Hebron community and an honor to the local Hitites.
Yet, a petty negotiation took place. Abraham went back and forth and back again. He petitioned the Hittite community no less than ten times. A man who had G-d’s ear couldn’t seem to get the full attention of the local Canaanites. The fact that Abraham had to have this experience, at this stage in life, was a humbling experience which forced Abraham to question his own heroics. Indeed, negotiating over a dark cave must have been a life altering challenge to Abraham.
And this was the test. Abraham had lived an exalted, prophetic and highly spiritual life. He had succeeded in becoming a ‘Prince of G-d”. The question now was, would Abraham still be able to be part of the community of man,maintain his humanity as a grounded citizen of the earth. Would he be able to bring his lofty level down to the ground and make the world a holier place to live in. Would he be able to build the “Malchut” of G-d in this world? And he passed the test, Abraham was still a human able to deal with the nitty gritty of life, elevating the world to a holier level. By descending downward he was elevated even higher.
The reward for this were the Ten Commandments. That which was until the point of Mount Sinai the domain of G-d and His angels, became carved in stone for everyman to access and learn.
The first lessons that Abraham taught us was to teach us what great heights mortal man can achieve while living in this Earth. The next lesson Abraham taught us was how we must take the heights and apply them to the base brick and morter of this world.
The purpose of Abraham’s and our spiritual journey is to make not only ourselves, but the entire world a more G-dly place to live.