web analytics
August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

An Act That Echoes Through Time

The-Shmuz

“And Avraham awoke in the morning, hitched his donkey, and took his two lads, and Yitzchak with him. He split wood for the sacrifice and went to the place that Hashem had commanded him to.” – Bereishis 22:3

Avraham Avinu was commanded with a supreme test, and one of the greatest challenges ever presented to man: “Take your son, your only son, the son that you love…”

One has the right to ask, “What was so great about this act?” Even today we witness people who are willing to slaughter themselves – or their children – in the name of their beliefs, and we certainly don’t consider them great! Why is this act considered one of the ultimate accomplishments of man?

The answer to this question lies in understanding not so much what Avraham did, but how he did it.

Avraham lived to serve Hashem. His every waking moment was devoted to spreading Hashem’s name and bringing others to recognize their Creator. However, he knew that only through a distinct and separate people could the name of Hashem be brought to its glory. His destiny and ultimate aspiration was to be the father of the Jewish nation.

Yet for many years that dream didn’t come true.

Avraham was 100 years old when he had Yitzchak. He waited month after month, year after year, begging, beseeching, and imploring Hashem for this son – but to no avail. Finally, in a most miraculous manner, at an age when both he and his wife couldn’t possibly parent a child, the angels told him the news: “Your greatest single ambition, to be the father of the Klal Yisrael, will come true through this child Yitzchak.”

Avraham’s Relationship With His Son

From the moment Yitzchak was born, he was the perfect child. Not only was he nearly identical to Avraham in look and in nature, from the moment he came to the age of understanding, he went in the ways of his father. Avraham had many students, but there was only one who was truly devoted to knowing and understanding the ways of his teacher. That was Yitzchak.

The bond of love and devotion Avraham felt toward his “only” son is hard to imagine. The nature of a tzaddik is to be kindly, compassionate, and giving. When a tzaddik connects to an almost equally perfect tzaddik, the bond of love and devotion between them is extremely powerful. For years, this relationship grew. It wasn’t until Yitzchak was 37 years old, in the prime of his life, that Hashem tested Avraham.

Avraham wasn’t asked to kill his child; he was asked to bring him as an olah, to perform all of the details that are done to a sacrifice in the Bais HaMikdash. Many a person has difficulty learning the particulars of bringing a korban when it is done to a sheep or a goat, but this wasn’t an animal. This was his son.

This refined, caring, loving tzaddik was asked to slaughter and then prepare his most beloved child and talmid as a sacrifice – not to sit by and allow it, not to witness it, but to do it with his own hands.

You would imagine that if such a person could actually muster the self-mastery to do this, it would be with a bitter and heavy heart.

Yet that isn’t how the Torah describes the events.

“And Avraham got up early in the morning, hitched up his donkey,” and set off on his journey.

Rashi quotes the Midrash that explains this was out of character. Avraham was an extremely wealthy and honored individual. He had hundreds of loyal students, and many, many slaves. Hitching up his donkey was not something he normally did. It was done for him by a servant. Yet this time was different because “love blinds.” Avraham was so enraptured with this great act that he got carried away and did something he never would have done himself. He hitched up his own donkey.

The Crescendo

With a calm demeanor and joy in his heart, Avraham set out on a three-day expedition to accomplish this great mitzvah. Along the way, Yitzchak discovered he was to be the sacrifice. He said to his father, “Please bind me so that I don’t twitch and spoil the sacrifice.” A korban must be slaughtered in a particular manner. Any deviation and the sacrifice is invalid. Yitzchak was afraid he might inadvertently move and spoil the process. Therefore he said, “Please bind me.” (Hence the term “akeidas Yitzchak,” the binding of Yitzchak.)

Avraham did just that. He tied Yitzchak’s arms and legs behind him, put him on the mizbeach, and raised up the knife to kill his son.

The Midrash tells us that Avraham stood over Yitzchak, “With tears in his eyes and great joy in his heart.” The tears in his eyes were the tears of a father parting with his most beloved son, but there was joy in his heart because of the fantastic opportunity to show Hashem that nothing, not even his most beloved son, was more precious to him than serving his Creator.

And now the question becomes: how is it possible for a man to make the ultimate sacrifice in a manner that seems to transcend every emotional limitation?

Akeidas Yitzchak was a singular event that actualized the years of extraordinary perfection that represented Avraham Avinu’s life. Because he lived in this world, he felt real love for his child, but even that love was something he harnessed to show his greater love of Hashem – the perfect balance of a man in complete control.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of TheShmuz.com. The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at www.TheShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “An Act That Echoes Through Time”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (R) and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu: New Budget Puts More Money in Israeli Pockets
Latest Judaism Stories
Shema

In the Shema, Jews sense personal address but know deepest expression of loyalty to God is communal

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

By internalizing the Exodus, it is as if we ourselves were redeemed from Egypt.

Neihaus-073115

Each Shabbos we add the tefilla of “Ritzei” to Birchas HaMazon. In it we ask Hashem that on this day of Shabbos He should be pleased with us and save us. What exactly do we want to be saved from? Before we answer this question, let’s talk about this Friday, the 15th of Av. Many […]

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Amongst the greatest disagreements in Judaism is the understanding of the 1st of the 10 Commandments

The Day He Heard
‘One May Seek Revocation Of A Confimation’
(Nedarim 69a)

The director picked up the phone to Rabbi Dayan. “One of our counselors lost his check,” he said. “Do we have to issue a new one or is it his loss?”

Six events occurred on Tu B’Av, the 15th of Av, making it a festive day in the Jewish calendar.

Why would Moshe Rabbeinu have thought that the vow that disallowed him to enter Eretz Yisrael was annulled simply because he was allowed to conquer and enter the land of Sichon and Og?

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Snow in Jerusalem! For many New Englanders like me, snow pulls at our nostalgic heartstrings like nothing else can.

Man has conflicting wishes and desires. Man has forces pulling him in competing directions.

Perhaps the admonition here is that we should not trivialize the events of the past by saying that they are irrelevant to the modern Jew.

One must view the settlement of Israel in a positive light. Thinking otherwise is a grievous sin.

Reaching a stronger understanding of what Moses actually did to prevent him from entering the land

Anti-Zionism, today’s anti-Semitism, has gone viral, tragically supported globally & by many Jews

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
Shmuz-logo-NEW

Man has conflicting wishes and desires. Man has forces pulling him in competing directions.

On Super Bowl Sunday itself, life seems to stop. Over one hundred million people watch the game. About half of the households in the country show it in their living rooms and dens.

We are affected by our environment. Our perspective on the world is affected by what those around us do.

It is the right amount of the right middah in the right time that is the key to perfection. Each middah has its place, time, and correct measure.

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him.” – Vayikra 19:17   When the Torah mentions the obligation to rebuke a fellow Jew, it ends with the words “and do not carry a sin because of him.” The Targum translates […]

The answer to this question is based on one of the greatest shortcomings of man – self-limiting beliefs.

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/an-act-that-echoes-through-time-2/2013/10/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: