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עתה ידעתי כי ירא אלקים אתה

Now I know that you are a G-d-fearing Man. (22:12)

Chazal (Sanhedrin 39:13) distinguish between the level of yiraas Shomayim, fear of Heaven, evinced by Avraham Avinu and Ovadyahu. Concerning Avraham it is written y’rei Elokim atah, you are G-d fearing, while concerning Ovadyahu the Navi writes, Va’yaar Hashem meod, he feared Hashem very much.” The added word, meod, describing Ovadyahu’s yiraas Shomayim, takes him “over the top” and presents him as being on a higher level of yiraas Shomayim than even our first Patriarch. In 1920, Yeshivas Slabodka was forced to relocate to Nicoliav, where Horav Mordechai Dov Eidelberg, zl, served as Rav. It was Shabbos Parashas Naso and…

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ויהי אחר הדברים האלה והאלקים נסה אברהם

And it happened after these things that G-d tested Avraham. (22:1)

The Akeidah, Binding of Yitzchak, is considered the seminal nisayon, trial, with which Hashem challenged Avraham Avinu. The question is obvious: All one has to do is peruse Jewish history to see that mesiras nefesh, for a Jew to sacrifice his life, has almost been a way of life, a culture with which we have been inculcated. Veritably, all instances of mesiras nefesh nurture their strength from Akeidas Yitzchak, but still, our ancestry did not always have Neviim, prophets, and Torah leaders who inspired and guided them concerning relinquishing their lives al Kiddush Hashem. Avraham Avinu received his mission from…

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כי ידעתיו למען אשר יצוה את בניו ואת ביתו אחריו ושמרו דרך ד' לעשות צדקה ומשפט

For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of Hashem, doing charity and justice. (18:19)

Avraham Avinu is known as the amud, pillar, of chesed. He went beyond the call of duty in order to provide for the needs of those who were not as fortunate as he. It was this character trait which he introduced and inculcated into the psyche of his descendants. Chesed takes on many forms. It all depends on the attitude of the benefactor. For the most part, they see a need, and they immediately respond. Then there are those who innovate, who think before they act, who understand that chesed goes deeper than fulfilling a need. One must acknowledge the…

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כי ידעתיו למען אשר יצוה את בניו ואת ביתו אחריו ושמרו דרך ד' לעשות צדקה ומשפט

For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of Hashem, doing charity and justice. (18:19)

Chazal (Kesubos 8b) apply the above pasuk to Avraham Avinu’s devotion to the middah, character trait, of chesed, acts of lovingkindness. Chazal relate various statements made by Amoraim in an attempt to comfort Rav Chiya bar Abba on the loss of his son. [We will not examine how these statements are comforting, but rather, focus on the statement and its implied message.] Acheinu gomlei chassadim b’nei gomlei chassadim, “Our brothers, who bestow lovingkindness, sons of those who bestow lovingkindness, who embrace b’riso shel Avraham Avinu, the covenant of our Patriarch, Avraham Avinu, as it is stated, ‘For I know him,…

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ויאמר אבי ויאמר הנני בני

And he (Yitzchak) said, “Father,” and he (Avraham) said, “Here I am, my son.” (22:7)

The dialogue between Yitzchak (Avinu) and Avraham Avinu seems superfluous. What does this exchange between father and child add to the narrative? The Melitzer Rebbe, Shlita, explains that when a Jew is in distress, when he is undergoing a physical, emotional or spiritual hardship, all he needs to do is cry out, “Abba, Tatte!” The cry should emanate from the innermost recesses of his being. When one does this sincerely, Hashem responds, Hineni, “I am here, my son.” Furthermore, even if a Jew is unable to articulate his request properly, to convey the hardship that is overtaking and overwhelming him,…

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והאלקים נסה את אברהם ויאמר אליו אברהם ויאמר הנני

G-d tested Avraham and said to him, “Avraham,” and he replied, “Here I am.” (22:1)

Hashem called to Avraham Avinu and the Patriarch’s immediate response was, Hineni, “Here I am.” Hashem told him, “By your life, with that very expression (hineni), I will issue a reward to your descendants,” as it says, Hineni, mamtir lechem min ha’Shomayim, “Behold! I will rain down for you bread from Heaven” (Shemos 16:4). In another place, Chazal teach that the actual manna was in the merit of Moshe Rabbeinu’s response, Hineni, when Hashem called out to him from the s’neh, burning bush (Shemos 2:4). We see from here the incredible value of, and merit derived, from saying (and meaning),…

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והאלקים נסה את אברהם

G-d tested Avraham. (22:1)

Avraham Avinu and his son, Yitzchak (Avinu), merited to achieve the highest level of serving Hashem: Kiddush Shem Shomayim, sanctifying Hashem’s Name, with their preparedness to slaughter and be slaughtered for the sake of Hashem. In the end, Hashem dispatched a heavenly angel to instruct Avraham to desist. Heaven neither requires, nor encourages, human sacrifice. It is far better (and probably more difficult) to live a life of Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying Hashem, in our every demeanor, our every action, than to die for him. The Baal HaTanya writes that in order to sanctify Hashem’s Name, it is not necessary to…

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אל תביט אחריך

Do not look behind you. (19:17)

Neither Lot nor anyone in his group of survivors was permitted to look back at the carnage that was taking place. Their merit in being spared was on condition that they not be in the midst of Sodom during its destruction. Thus, they could be saved before the upheaval began. Furthermore, they were not entitled to witness the destruction of Sodom while they remained unscathed. Lot’s wife did not listen. When she turned around to see what was happening to her fellows, Hashem punished her. A deeper meaning can be attributed to the words, “Do not look behind you,” one…

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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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