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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Stop Surviving’

I’m Never Wrong

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

And Moshe said, “So said Hashem, at approximately midnight, I will go out into Mitzraim. – Shemos 11:4

 

After a “natural” disaster, people speak with reverence. Even arrogant individuals, after living through a hurricane, tidal wave, or earthquake, have a sense of humility. Their reality has been changed, and they view life differently. Yet, when Pharaoh and Mitzraim experienced the makkos, that wasn’t their reaction.

The Egyptians lived through the most powerful manifestation of Hashem’s might. For months, they were afflicted while Hashem “played with” Mitzraim. Two points were made clear: Hashem is the Master of Creation, and Moshe was the messenger of Hashem. Everything Moshe said would happen, happened – with precision and exactness.

Now, Hashem told Moshe that the final, most potent, makkah would come. “Tell Pharaoh that exactly at midnight, every first born in Mitzraim will die.” Yet when Moshe approached Pharaoh, he changed the message; he said at “approximately” midnight the firstborn will die.

Rashi is bothered by this. Why did Moshe change the words Hashem used? He answers that Moshe was afraid Pharaoh’s astrologers would make a mistake. They would be watching the clock to see if Moshe’s prediction was accurate. Even though the firstborn would in fact die exactly at the stroke of midnight, the astrologers might have the wrong time and mistakenly assume it wasn’t midnight. They would then accuse Moshe of being a liar. To prevent this from happening, Moshe said “approximately at midnight.”

Telling Time in the Ancient World

This Rashi is very difficult to understand when we take into account the historical reality.

Today, we live with an acute awareness of time. We have clocks all around us, in every room and in every car, on pens, microwaves, computers and cell phones. We can’t buy groceries or go to the bank without a date and time stamp adorning our receipts. We are constantly reminded of our point in time. And our chronometers are precise, down to the nanosecond. In short, we have good reason to assume our sense of timekeeping is accurate.

This wasn’t the way the ancient world kept time. During the day they used a sundial, which might have been somewhat close to almost accurate – sort of. At night, the only way to tell time was by gazing at the stars. Without computer-aided optics, measuring objects light years away is highly inaccurate at best.

Even if the Egyptians prided themselves on ingenuity and advancements, they had to know they were most likely wrong when it came to accurately knowing when midnight was. If so, why would they assume they were right and Moshe was wrong? If everything he had said up until then had been true, and they didn’t have a reliable way to know what time it was, why should they assume they were right and he was wrong?

Humans Don’t Like to Be Wrong

The answer to this question is based on a quirk in human nature: we assume we are right – whether our opinion is justified or not – and we don’t want to hear otherwise. The ironic part of this is that we assume we are right whether we have really thought out our position or not. We assume we are right whether we really have evidence to the facts or it just happens to be the first thing that came to mind. We assume our position, whatever it might be, is correct. It’s just a given. And it is very difficult to get us to change our minds. We are heedless in the formation of our opinions, but once they are formed, we defend them as if our very lives depended on it.

The Mitzrim are a fantastic illustration of this concept. Moshe was afraid that if there were a discrepancy between his time and theirs, they would assume they were right and he was wrong. Even though he had proven himself again and again, even though all the other details about the firstborn dying were completely correct, there wouldn’t have even been a question in their minds. If they determined it was precisely 11:45, fifteen minutes before the prescribed time, and the firstborn started dying, clearly in their eyes Moshe would be a liar. Because of this, Moshe used the expression approximately so that they shouldn’t come to this mistake.

This concept has great relevance to us on a personal level. What happens when someone points out I did something incorrect? Am I able to deal with the concept that maybe I am wrong? Am I able to swallow the thought that I made a mistake? Part of becoming a bigger person is the ability to be teachable, to be big enough to understand that not everything I thought of is right. And not everything someone else says is automatically wrong just because it isn’t my way. If a person wants to grow, some of the most critical words he needs to tell himself are: Maybe I’m wrong. I have been wrong before. Let me look at it again

The Measure Of The Man

Friday, January 20th, 2012

“This was Aharon and Moshe to whom Hashem spoke….” — Shemos 6:26

After Hashem commanded Moshe and Aharon to be the emissaries to free the Jewish people, the Torah lays out their lineage. At the conclusion, the Torah repeats the names of Aharon and Moshe, this time in reverse order, with Aaron mentioned before Moshe.

Rashi seems bothered by both the repetition of the names and the reversal of their order. He says this comes to teach us that Moshe and Aharon were equal: Even though from this point forward Moshe would be the leader of the Jewish nation, don’t make any mistake. Aharon was just as great.

The difficulty with this Rashi is that according to all measures, Moshe Rabbeinu was far greater than Aharon. Moshe was the leader of the Jewish nation. He brought the makkos on Mitzrayim. He led the Jewish people out of slavery. He split the Yam Suf. He went up to receive the Torah on Har Sinai. But even more telling, he was the greatest prophet who ever lived. The only human who reached the level of seeing Hashem with total clarity was Moshe. There never was, nor will there ever be, a person who will reach that level.

So how can Rashi tell us Moshe and Aharon were equals when clearly Moshe was on a higher madreigah?

Two Systems for Measuring Greatness

The answer to this question seems to be that there are two systems for judging a person’s greatness; one is absolute and the other is subjective. When measuring a man based on the absolute standard of greatness in Torah and perfection, Moshe was far greater than Aharon. He towered over any other human ever created. However, there is another system for measuring a person’s success. Based on his capacity, and his potential, how much did he accomplish?

Before each person is born, he is predestined for certain abilities and talents, a particular level of intelligence, and an exact disposition and temperament. At the end of his days, he will be compared to what he could have become. How far did he grow? How much did he accomplish with the tools given to him? This system is subjective. How much of his potential did he fulfill?

Moshe may well have reached 99 percent of his potential, but so did Aharon. So even though in the absolute sense Moshe was far greater, and others had to treat him as the greatest human being ever, in the subjective sense of reaching one’s capacity, Aharon was his equal, and as such was just as great. That is what the Torah is teaching by exchanging the order of their names.

I Won’t Be Compared to You

One of the most sobering concepts is that when I finish my job on this planet, I will be judged. But I will not be measured in absolute terms of how much Torah I mastered or how much I accomplished. That is far too inequitable.

I won’t even be compared to others in my generation. I won’t be compared to you, or to him, or to her, or to anyone else. I will be measured by a far more just and exacting standard – me. How much of me did I become? 80 percent? 60 percent? 50 percent? And that is who I am for eternity.

In this world, we can’t measure a person’s capacity, so we give honor and respect based only on the absolute measure of the person. If this person is functioning on the level of a great person, we are obligated to respect him and treat him with honor. However, when we leave this temporary existence, everything will become clear. I will understand exactly what I was destined to be. And I will also know your capacity and what you could have been. There are no head starts, no advantages or disadvantages, just percentages of realized potential.

At that point in our existence, there will be individuals who appeared to us as great while we were occupants of the physical world who will shrink dramatically, having only reached 20 percent of their potential. They’ll be pygmies. And there will be many others we once cast into the category of the insignificant, but who are actually towering giants, having reached 85 percent of their potential. Just as with Moshe and Aharon, it wasn’t the rank or position that they held that is the final determinant, but rather their subjective greatness with regard to whom they should have been.

This concept has great relevance to us – both positive and negative. It seems to be a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others: “I am smarter than he is. Better than she is. Not as talented as he is…” If my disposition is to favor myself – being kind to me and tough on you – I become inflated, over-confident, and full of myself. If my prejudice is to be harsh on myself, then I will constantly find others superior, and my sense of self will suffer.

Living Like A Rock

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

And Yaakov lived in the lands in which his father sojourned, the land of Canaan. – Bereishis 37:1

Rashi tells us that after the Torah described the life of Eisav in an abbreviated manner, it then told over the events of the life of Yaakov in full detail. The reason for this is that Yaakov and what occurred to him are important in the eyes of Hashem, whereas Eisav and his life aren’t. So too, Rashi explains, we find with the ten generations from Adam to Noach. Each individual gets a mere mention until we get to the life of Noach. Then the Torah elaborates in full detail.

The same pattern is repeated with the ten generations from Noach until Avraham. We are told in condensed form – “so and so gave birth to so and so” – until we get to the life of Avraham. Then the Torah again goes into great detail because the life and activities of a tzaddik are important in the eyes of Hashem, while those a rasha aren’t.

Rashi continues with a mashol to help explain this concept. Imagine a man has lost a precious stone in the sand. He takes a sieve and begins combing through the sand to find it. The sieve picks up many small rocks along with the gem that he is searching for. Once he finds the gem, he takes it out and throws the rocks away.

This Rashi becomes difficult to understand when we focus on the purpose of a mashol. Chazal use parables to help bridge a gap. When we are dealing with concepts that are outside our frame of reference, our sages often use examples and metaphors to bring difficult ideas into terms that we can understand. For instance, if you were given the task to describe the color purple to a color-blind person, how would you portray it? Well, it isn’t blue and it’s not red. The problem is that since this person sees all colors in the grey spectrum, neither point of reference has any meaning. So you might revert to a mashol. The purpose of the mashol is to capture the essence of a distant concept and bring it closer.

Why does Rashi feel we need a mashol to understand this concept? It seems rather straightforward. Eisav wasn’t important, so the Torah told over his life quickly, whereas Yaakov and what he accomplished are significant, so the Torah went into the details. That seems like an elementary concept, not one that needs repeating or a mashol to help clarify it.

The Value of a Person

The answer to this question is that Rashi is explaining a concept that isn’t obvious at all – namely, the true value of a person. If you were to ask a chemist the value of a human being, he might say, “Well, let’s see…So much potassium…so much magnesium…I would estimate his value at about 60 cents.” That would be accurate in one dimension. If we were measuring the value of a human from the perspective of the chemicals that make up his body, we would find him rather inexpensive. However, from a different perspective, the human is the most precious entity on the face of the planet – something so precious that it was worthwhile to create an entire cosmos for just one person.

The difference in the value systems manifests itself in the way a person lives his life. If a person leads his life like any other occupant of this planet, as just another member of the animal kingdom, then he has the value of whatever his physical being represents – a couple of pounds of rotting meat. However, if a person recognizes the reason Hashem put us on the planet and leads the life of a great person, his value is incalculable.

Living Like a Rock

That is what Rashi seems to be telling us. If the Torah only mentioned Eisav quickly and then elaborated about the life of Yaakov, you would never quite understand the difference in their values. Let me give you a mashol: When a man is looking for a pearl in the sand and he picks up some rocks along with it, they are utterly, totally and completely valueless to him. He throws them back down. The Torah is using this mashol to give us the perspective of the stark difference in value. It wasn’t that Eisav wasn’t as important as Yaakov – he was valueless, something to be discarded. He was a rock. When he left this planet, that is all that was left – the body to decay into the ground.

This concept is very relevant to us because we tend to get very busy at this thing called life. Working, doing, going, taking care of this, taking care of that. But a person has to ask himself, “What is it that I am so busy with? Granted I have to make a living, agreed that I must take care of many basic physical needs, but has that taken over the focus of my life? Do I spend so much time focused on the mundane issues of survival that it has become the epicenter of my existence? If it does, then I am no different than a beast of burden; I am a rock.”

Accomplice To Evil

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

The sons of Yaakov came upon the corpses of the city that had defiled their sister.” – Bereishis 34:27

 

Shechem, the son of Chamor, set his sights on Dina. He carefully laid a trap to entice her out of her tent, and then kidnapped and defiled her. When Yaakov and his sons heard what had been done, “they were extremely distressed . . . [and said] ‘So shall not be done!’ ”

Shechem became infatuated with Dina, and came to ask for her hand in marriage. “Name your price and I will pay it,” he said to Yaakov. The brothers of Dina answered Shechem, “To marry into our family, a person must have a bris milah.” Shechem and Chamor agreed, and they convinced the people of their town to be circumcised as well. On the third day of their milah, Reuven and Shimon took up their swords and killed out every male in the city.

After they were finished, the pasuk says “the sons of Yaakov came upon the corpses of the city that had defiled their sister.” The Sforno is bothered by the expression “the city that defiled their sister.” After all, it was Shechem alone who committed the act, not the city.

The Sforno answers by explaining that in that society, forcibly taking a woman was not considered abhorrent. If it had not been socially acceptable, Shechem never would have done it. Therefore, it is considered as if they were all participants.

The problem is that the Sforno doesn’t seem to have answered his question. Granted, the entire town may have been responsible for creating the social atmosphere that accepted such conduct, but all they did was to give Shechem the opportunity to act as he wished. They didn’t join him in the act. They didn’t aid him. They didn’t tempt him to do it. The most we can blame them for is giving the opportunity to Shechem to do as he chose. If so, how can the pasuk say the city defiled Dina?

A Cog in the Wheel of a Killing Machine

On April 14, 1944, the deportation of Hungarian Jewry began. Within 56 days, almost 500,000 men, women and children were transported to Auschwitz.

Imagine you were a German train switch operator at a station near Auschwitz. You came of age at a time when Hitler had been long accepted as the Fuehrer. From your youth you were indoctrinated with the belief that the fatherland was the glory of all true Germans, and that Hitler alone was the savior of the new Germany.

It would be hard for you to deny your knowledge of where this human cargo was headed, as the air was heavy with the smell of burning flesh. But you never killed anyone. In fact, you may not even have completely bought into the racial theory thing. Your job was just to keep those trains rolling. So you aren’t guilty of murder. Are you?

At the Nuremberg Trials, the Nazis defended themselves with the mantra, “We were only following orders.” Each participant denied his guilt by claiming he was just a cog in the wheel: not a murderer himself, not a decision-maker – just a lackey. Yet, even the secular world didn’t accept this because being a cog in the wheel of a killing machine makes you a part of a machine that kills. As such, you are a killer.

The Sforno is teaching us that even if a person is not an active participant in an act, he can be considered responsible for its happening. In a normal society, basic human rights are a given. If the society has failed to keep safeguards in place, then that society has failed in its most basic responsibilities. Every member of that group is therefore held accountable for that failure.

In the case of Dina, the townspeople made it possible for Shechem to do what he did. Without their easing the standards, it never would have happened. Once they lowered the accepted behavior, they paved the way for him, so they are held responsible for what he did.

Accessories to Terror

This concept is especially relevant in our times when the murder of innocent people has become an accepted manner of protesting for one’s political rights. Inflicting terror on men, women, and children is almost part of the political process – because it advances my cause.

And who is to blame? Certainly in a society that fosters such beliefs, every member of the society is guilty. When a mass murderer has succeeded in his wanton killing, and his hometown comes out en masse to celebrate, that town is a participant in the murder. If a culture encourages the brutal torture of civilians by teaching it as an expression of religion, then every member of that group shares responsibility for the outcome. If Palestinian Authority TV programming regularly shows messages of hatred that promote murder and self-mutilation, then the anchors, the actors, the scriptwriters, the camera men, and all of the support staff are part of the crime.

The Sensitivity Of A Tzaddik

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

 “Then Yaakov kissed Rachel. And he raised his voice and wept.” – Bereishis 29: 11

 

When Yaakov met Rachel at the well, he experienced conflicting emotions. He felt tremendous joy at having finally met his bashert, yet he raised his voice and cried. Rashi explains that he cried because he came empty-handed. He said, “My father’s servant came with ten camels laden with gifts and finery, and I come with empty hands.”

Rashi goes on to explain to us why he didn’t bring a gift for Rachel. When Yaakov found out Eisav was plotting to kill him, he fled from his father’s home. Eisav sent his son Alifaz to chase down Yaakov. Alifaz was a tzaddik, and when he approached Yaakov he said, “I can’t kill you because you are an innocent man. On the other hand, what will be with the command of my father?” Yaakov said to him, “A poor man has the halachic status of a dead man. Take my money, and it will be considered as if you killed me, so on some level you will have fulfilled your father’s words.” As a result, Yaakov came to the well empty-handed. When it was time to propose to Rachel, he didn’t have the gifts that would be expected, and so, he raised his voice and cried.

This Rashi become difficult to understand when we focus on who these people were. The Avos may have walked the same planet as do you and I, but they lived in a very different orbit. Their every waking moment was occupied by thoughts of Hashem. They lived and breathed to attain closeness to Hashem. That was the focus of their lives and existence. It was the only thing that mattered to them.

For many years Rachel knew that she was to marry Yaakov and be a matriarch of the Jewish people. You have to assume that when she finally met her bashert she was overcome with joy. Here was the man she had waited for. Here in front of her was this great tzaddik, the man of her dreams, offering to marry her so she could fulfill her destiny. It is hard to imagine she was concerned at that moment about glitter and trinkets.

Yet Yaakov cried because he didn’t have a diamond ring to give her. The question is – why? All that Rachel really wanted was being delivered to her. If so, why did Yaakov cry?

It seems the answer is that the lack of gifts may not have bothered Rachel much, but the bottom line was that it wasn’t respectful to her. When you come to your kallah, you bring her a gift. That is the way dignified people act. On some level, it isn’t treating her with the kavod due to her, and that caused Yaakov pain – so much pain that he raised his voice and cried. On some level, it was a slight to the honor of Rachel. It wasn’t befitting her significance, so it moved him to tears.

Every Person Hungers for Recognition

This is a tremendous lesson to us because the people we live among aren’t on the level of Rachel. To them, a slight to their honor is something that causes real pain. People will go to great lengths to protect their reputation and dignity because these things are very important to them. And for that reason we need to develop a real sensitivity to other people’s dignity and honor.

But this concept goes much further. The reality is that there are few people who get enough recognition and respect. We humans have many needs. We need food and drink, we need shelter and protection, and we need friends and companionship. Most of our needs are met. The one need that that is almost never met is the need to be appreciated. It is something we hunger for, something that is basic to our success and vitality. Yet there is no store where it can be bought, no marketplace in which it can be acquired. And a person often can go around with a deep hunger, not even realizing what is amiss.

One of the greatest acts of kindness I can do for another person is to treat him with honor. If I find your currency and can acknowledge you in that vein, I can give you that which you deeply crave – and it costs me nothing.

The great dichotomy of human conduct is that I must run from my own kavod, yet run after yours. When it comes to my honor, I have to train myself that it is vain and frivolous, yet when it comes to yours, I have to do everything in my power to give you as much honor as I am able. A person who learns to find this balance becomes a popular and welcome companion, and is able to help others meet one of their deepest, unmet needs.

The Middos Are The Man

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Eliezer, the faithful servant of Avraham, was charged with finding a wife for Yitzchak. Knowing full well the gravity of his mission, he also recognized its difficulty. The woman he would choose was to be the mother of the Jewish People. The issue was: how to find her? Of the untold number of eligible women, how would he determine which was the right one?

The Torah tells us Eliezer’s system:

“And it will be that the maiden to whom I will say, ‘Please give me to drink,’ and she will answer, ‘Please drink, and I will give your camels to drink as well.’ She will be the one You have proven to be the wife for Yitzchak.” Bereishis 24:14

Rashi explains this wasn’t an arbitrary sign; this was the determinant of the woman best suited to enter into the house of Avraham. A woman who was so giving that she would go out of her way to help a complete stranger, even by offering to care for his camels, was the one to be the wife of Yitzchak.

And that in fact is what happened. No sooner did Eliezer get to the well than he met Rivkah. He asked her for something to drink, and as the Sforno explains, he was astounded by her reaction. The speed with which she moved, the energy with which she ran to fill the jug of water, was amazing. Eliezer watched, mouth agape, as Rivkah ran back and forth, refilling her jug time after time, until he and his ten camels were sated. He knew he had found the right woman. So without even asking her name, without inquiring into her family, he betrothed her to his master Yitzchak.

Middos Are  Only Part of the Package The difficulty with this Rashi is that Eliezer used one limited criterion to find the perfect match for Yitzchak. Let’s grant that this woman had perfect middos and was truly a ba’alas chesed. But that is but one part of the person. Eliezer didn’t ask her about her religious beliefs. Perhaps she was an idol worshiper like her father and her brother. She might well have been a “stargazer,” as were many people living at that time. It seems Eliezer picked one limited focus to the exclusion of everything else, and in doing so, he took a great risk.

The answer to this question lies in understanding the centrality of middos in serving Hashem. When Hashem created the human, He made us of two distinct parts. There is a part of me that is preprogrammed to do everything that is good, right and proper. There is a full half of me that only wants to be generous, magnanimous, and giving. This is my neshamah, born of the highest elements in the cosmos. It yearns for a loving relationship with my Creator. And then there is another part of me: the nefesh ha’bahami. This part is the same living substance that occupies every animal in the world. It is made up of pure drives and instincts. It has no wisdom; it operates out of passions, appetites, and hungers. And it cares about nothing other than filling those hungers.

And so the human is comprised of two distinct, competing parts. These two elements manifest themselves in everything we do. One or the other is constantly gaining primacy over the person. The more I allow my pure neshamah to come to the fore, the stronger its urges and desires for greatness become. The more I give in to my animal instinct, the stronger it becomes.

When I see another person suffering, there is actually a battle going on inside me. Part of me cries out with that person. “What can I do to lighten his load? How can I help?” And part of me just couldn’t care less. There is a part of me that isn’t interested in him or anything else for that matter. All it cares about is fulfilling its needs and desires. Therefore, every situation in life is a test – a test to see which part comes to the fore, which part gains control over me.

What Rivkah Was Demonstrating What Eliezer witnessed at the well was a human being who reached such a high level of perfection that he was awestruck. For a woman to run out, time after time, filling jug after jug of water for someone she didn’t know, was a complete act of selflessness. It demonstrated she had reached a fabulously high level of self-perfection.

An Act That Echoes Through Time

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

“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 tzdadik 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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/an-act-that-echoes-through-time/2011/11/12/

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