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וישב אברהם אל נעריו... וישב אברהם בבאר שבע

Avraham returned to his young men… and Avraham stayed at Be’er Sheva. (22:19)

The Torah informs us that following the Akeidah, Avraham Avinu, made an about face and returned home with the two lads – assistants (Eliezer and Yishmael) who had accompanied him and Yitzchak Avinu on this momentous journey. Four people left – three people returned. Where was Yitzchak? Targum Yonasan explains that the future Patriarch, who was prepared to relinquish his life for Hashem, seems missing from the equation. Apparently, Avraham had sent his primary son to Shem ben Noach to study in his yeshivah. Yitzchak spent the next three years studying Torah from Shem. This directive begs elucidation. Why did…

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וישם אותו על המזבח ממעל לעצים

And he placed him on the Altar atop the wood. (22:9)

The Yalkut Shemoni (Parashas Vayeira 101) teaches that Avraham Avinu’s eyes looked into Yitzchak Avinu’s eyes,while Yitzchak’s eyes gazed up at the Heavens. Tears dropped incessantly from Avraham’s eyes. We derive from here that Avraham did not abrogate his human emotions. He was a father whose overwhelming love for his son was evident throughout the Akeidah. His love for Hashem was evidently greater. Avraham wanted to carry out Hashem’s command with total equanimity and joy. Nonetheless, it pained him greatly that executing the command meant slaughtering his son. The Alter, zl, m’Slabodka wonders why Avraham did not subdue his emotions…

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והאלקים נסה את אברהם

G-d tested Avraham. (22:1)

The question is obvious: Why is the Akeidah, Binding (of Yitzchak), considered a test of Avraham Avinu’s conviction? One would think that for a thirty-seven-year old man to “stretch out his neck” and prepare to be slaughtered as an offering to Hashem is an extraordinary test of his own faith. Why is it not considered the test of Yitzchak? The commentators, each in his own idiomatic manner, offer an insightful explanation. Yitzchak Avinu achieved a level of spirituality which was extraordinary. As the first one willing to allow his father to slaughter him as a sacrifice to Hashem, Yitzchak not…

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ויהי בשחת אלקים את ערי הככר ויזכר אלקים את אברהם וישלח את לוט מתוך ההפכה

And so it was when Hashem destroyed the cities of the plain that G-d remembered Avraham; so he sent Lot from amidst the upheaval. (19:29)

Rashi asks: What is the remembrance of Avraham concerning Lot? He explains that Hashem remembered that Lot was aware that Sarah was Avraham’s wife, and he heard Avraham say (in Egypt) that she was his sister. Lot did not divulge that Sarah Imeinu was, indeed, Avraham Avinu’s wife. Therefore, Hashem took pity on Lot. In other words, Lot was rewarded with his life because he did not inform the Egyptians that Sarah was actually Avraham’s wife. If Lot would have spoken up, the Egyptians would have killed Avraham, leaving Sarah a widow. Sarah was really Yiskah, the daughter of Haran,…

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ותצחק שרה בקרבה

And Sarah laughed to herself. (18:12)

Sarah Imeinu, the tzadekes, righteous and pious Matriarch, was a prophetess. Thus, her incredulous laughter begs elucidation. Is anything beyond Hashem’s ability? Indeed, it is specifically this question that Hashem presented to Avraham Avinu. Furthermore, why did Sarah deny her mirthful reaction to the news that she would have a child? It seems that when Avraham Avinu laughed at the same news, it was acceptable. Why did Sarah’s reaction draw the Almighty’s subtle rebuke? To set the record straight, Sarah Imeinu’s laughter was no different than that of Avraham; both expressed joy and gratitude. Nonetheless, Hashem saw a nuanced variation,…

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ויזכר אלקים את אברהם וישלח את לוט מתוך ההפיכה

Hashem remembered Avraham; so He sent Lot from amidst the upheaval. (19:29)

Avraham Avinu was a baal chesed, master of kindness. Indeed, the Torah goes to great lengths in describing his devotion to the wayfarer, and how he exerted himself to make sure that whoever came into his home had a pleasureful and satisfying experience. Lot, Avraham’s nephew, also acted with chesed. He moved to Sodom and became a distinguished member of this ignominious community. He moved there because he was into money and everything one can achieve with material bounty. He did, however, retain some of the good qualities that he learned under the influence of his uncle. When the Angels…

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כי ידעתיו למען אשר יצוה את בניו ואת ביתו אחריו

For I have loved him because he commands his children and his household after him. (18:19)

Chinuch ha’banim, educating our children, inculcating them with the moral/ethical values of our Torah expounded by Chazal, is the primary role with which parents are charged. Hashem says that He loves Avraham Avinu because he places education uppermost in his mind. Everything that Avraham did contained an educational aspect. He lived to serve Hashem. We can perform no greater service to the Almighty than one which imbues others and brings them closer to serving Hashem. We can derive a number of lessons from this pasuk. First, one is not included under the rubric of a yarei Hashem, G-d-fearing Jew, unless…

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וישא עיניו וירא והנה שלשה אנשים נצבים עליו

He lifted his eyes and saw: And behold! Three men were standing over him. (18:2)

If Lot had learned one thing from his uncle, Avraham Avinu, it was to adhere meticulously to the mitzvah of hachnosas orchim, hospitality to wayfarers – and anyone in need of a bed or a meal. Hachnosas orchim is just one of the many activities that fall under the rubric of chesed. Avraham was the amud ha’chesed, pillar of loving-kindness. Avraham devoted himself to it to the point of self-sacrifice. Chesed also gave him the opportunity to reach out to the pagan world spiritually and to teach the pagans about Hashem. Chazal laud Avraham for his extraordinary dedication to serving…

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ויהי אחר הדברים האלה והאלקים נסה את אברהם

And it happened after these things that Hashem tested Avraham. (22:1)

Our Patriarch, Avraham Avinu, had been tested ten times by Hashem as a means of confirming his commitment and as a vehicle for proclaiming to the world his abiding devotion to Hashem. Hashem was now asking him to sacrifice his only son, whom he loved with a love that went beyond words. Actually, Avraham had already proven his commitment to Hashem, when he relinquished his life as he was prepared to die in the fiery cauldron of Uhr Kasdim. How often did Avraham have to prove his willingness to sacrifice on behalf of Hashem? Mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice, is a spiritual…

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ותאמר לאברהם גרש האמה הזאת ואת בנה כי לא יירש בן האמה הזאת עם בני עם יצחק

So she said to Avraham, “Drive out this slavewoman with her son, for the son of that slavewoman shall not inherit with my son, with Yitzchak!” (21:10)

The Chazon Ish, zl, teaches that distancing a boy from yeshivah, sending him away, is a dinei nefashos, life and death, issue. A yeshivah that sends a student away due to its inability to deal with him is similar to a hospital who refuses to treat a patient whose illness is advanced. A maggid shiur in Yeshivas Porat Yosef approached Horav Yehudah Tzadaka, zl, Rosh Yeshivah, with a request that a certain student be asked to leave the yeshivah. Rav Tzadaka asked the rebbe, “Did you pray for him? Did you fast for him? First pray and fast for him…

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