Parasha Inspiration – Vayera

וַיְהִ֗י אַחַר֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְהָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים נִסָּ֖ה אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֔יו אַבְרָהָ֖ם וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי: וַיֹּ֡אמֶר קַח־נָ֠א אֶת־בִּנְךָ֨ אֶת־יְחִֽידְךָ֤ אֲשֶׁר־אָהַ֨בְתָּ֙ אֶת־יִצְחָ֔ק וְלֶ֨ךְ־לְךָ֔ אֶל־אֶ֖רֶץ הַמֹּֽרִיָּ֑ה וְהַֽעֲלֵ֤הוּ שָׁם֙ לְעֹלָ֔ה עַ֚ל אַחַ֣ד הֶֽהָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר אֹמַ֥ר אֵלֶֽיךָ:

And it came to pass after these things, that God tested Abraham, and He said to him, “Abraham,” and he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love, yea, Isaac, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains, of which I will tell you.”

Genesis 22:1-2

This week’s parasha contains one of the most pivotal stories in all Torah: the binding of Isaac. Abraham takes Isaac, his son, to mount Moriah (what would become the site of Solomon’s temple) to sacrifice him under Hashem’s command. Isaac appears to comply with Abraham’s wishes simply and meekly. But is this actually the case?

Torah tells us that Sarah was 127 years old when she died. Her passing occurs in next week’s parasha. The sages conclude that Sarah’s passing was a direct result of her hearing of the binding of Isaac. Torah also tells us that Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac was born. Therefore, Isaac was 37 years old when Abraham presented him to Hashem as a sacrifice.

Usually, we picture Isaac as a young child being bound by Abraham. The idea is that Isaac, being the innocent toddler, simply goes along with whatever Abraham says. But this idea is blown apart when we consider Isaac was actually 37 years old.

When Abraham and Isaac went up to mount Moriah, Abraham was a very old man. From the text we can conclude that Isaac was well aware of what was going on. Isaac certainly had the ability to escape from Abraham and run away. Or, Isaac could have simply said no, and not allowed Abraham to bind him. Isaac did none of these things.

The first verse tells us that Hashem tested Abraham. However, it appears that Abraham is not the only one being tested. Isaac was being tested also. Abraham trusted Hashem to the point where Abraham was actually willing to sacrifice his son at Hashem’s command. Isaac trusted his father Abraham so much that he was willing to allow Abraham to sacrifice him. This test of Isaac was, in many ways, an even greater test than that given to Abraham. Not only did Isaac pass this test, but he illustrated what true faith in a parent means. The faith that Isaac puts in Abraham, like the faith that Abraham puts in Hashem, is a great example of the trusting relationship that should exist between a son and a father, between a person and Hashem. Later, this commandment would be given specifically to Israel at Sinai. Honor your mother and father. Shabbat Shalom.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.