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G-d tested Avraham. (22:1)

Chazal tell us that Avraham Avinu was tested ten times by Hashem. It seems strange that the Patriarch had to prove himself so many times. One test should have sufficed. If he passed, it indicated that he believed and was committed. What more is necessary? Indeed, Chazal teach us that the Akeidas Yitzchak, Binding of Yitzchak, was the most difficult test, and it was through this test that Avraham successfully completed his trial period. He was “in.” If the Akeidah was the turning point, if it was the final indication, why did Hashem not just test Avraham with the Akeidah?…

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

The nisayon, trial, of Akeidas Yitzchak, the Binding of Yitzchak, was the greatest of the ten  trials  which  our Patriarch,  Avraham Avinu,  underwent.  His  triumph  over the various challenges to his faith and his emotions, both as a father and as the first Jew, serves as a paradigm for – and major intercessor on behalf of – his descendants. The Akeidah epitomizes the Jew’s determination to serve Hashem, despite his difficult circumstances. Pesikta Rabbasi teaches that the Akeidah took place on Rosh Hashanah. For this reason, it serves as the Torah reading for the second day of Rosh Hashanah. That, together…

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The child grew and was weaned, and Avraham made a great feast on the day Yitzchak was weaned. (21:8)

Rabbeinu Bachya writes that the world custom is to celebrate the day of child’s birth with a seudah, festive meal, or do the same on the day of a son’s Bris Milah. However, Avraham Avinu waited until Yitzchak was weaned. Why? He suggests that it was at this point that the Patriarch felt the time had come for his son to commence his Torah studies. This was the day of true joy. Pikudei Hashem yesharim mesamchei lev, “The orders of Hashem are upright, gladdening the heart” (Tehillim 19:9). Avraham celebrated his son’s birth and his entrance into the Covenant of…

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“Because the outcry of Sodom and Amorah has become great, and because their sin has been very grave.” (18:20)

The outcry of the victims of Sodom’s physical and mental abuse was too much. The tears of the oppressed seeking liberation from their misery had reached the Heavenly sphere. The Talmud Sanhedrin 109b cites a number of cases depicting the perverted sense of justice which characterized Sodom. One of the more infamous decrees was their approach to hospitality. In fact, the “Sodom bed” has become a catchword for describing a situation where something is made to fit – regardless of its size. The custom was that when a visitor came to Sodom, they would lay him down on a bed…

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“And Avraham will surely become a great and mighty nation… For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him.” (18:18,19)

The pasuk seems to imply that Avraham Avinu’s z’chus was primarily due to the impact he would make on future generations – his adherence to the Mesorah, transmission of our heritage, throughout the generations. This is enigmatic. Is Avraham not worthy on his own account? After all, he was the first one to recognize Hashem; the individual who was willing to die in a fiery furnace for his convictions; the one who stood up against an entire pagan society to preach monotheism. Certainly, this is quite a résumé to consider! Is Avraham’s only merit the fact that he would pass it…

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“What if the fifty righteous people should lack five? Would You destroy the entire city because of the five?” And He said, “I will not destroy if I find there forty-five. (18:28)

Simchah, joy, plays a significant – almost critical role – in our avodas Hashem, service to  the  Almighty.  Without  simchah,  we  are  unable  to  sustain  a  meaningful and enduring relationship. The ultimate goal of a Jew is to bond with Hashem. Without joy, this is impossible, since the Shechina cannot rest in a place of atzvus – loosely translated as sadness, but as the Baal HaTanya defines it, a total absence of feeling. A sad person has feelings. A person in atzvus is mute, without emotion. This is why simchah and sadness can coexist, such as on Tishah B’Av. They are…

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