Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi
This week's parasha contains one of the most difficult to read passages – Aqedat Yisshaq. Abraham Avinou is commanded by Hashem to seemingly bring his son, a miracle child, as a sacrifice on an altar. At the ages of 100 and 90 respectively, Abraham and Sarah saw the impossible happen, and rejoiced in the birth of Yisshaq. Little did they know then, that 37 years later, Hashem would test the very fabric of their belief.
The rabbis tell us that Abraham was tested ten times, and that this was the final test of the ten. This test was greater than all others, as we read in the text an introductory passage that we only find before this test: "Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied." (Vayera 22:1) The Torah explicitly states that this was a test. No other test of Abraham was given such textual testimony.
In truth, many of the commentators on the Torah explain how Abraham's test was greater than that of Yisshaq. On a peshat level, as we can imagine, a father being told to sacrifice his own son – what could be harder for a person to do? On a deeper level, the rabbis tell us that one who is commanded to do something, and does it, is greater than a person who is not commanded to do something, yet does it. The logic is simple: when one is commanded to perform a missvah, one's Yesser Harah begins to find ways to avoid doing the missvah. A person who is not commanded to perform a missvah, does not face that same strife.
Here, we only see that Abraham was commanded. Yisshaq only followed his father. However, there is what to learn from the actions of Yisshaq and herein lies our message for the week. As Abraham bounded Yisshaq's hands to his legs, Yisshaq understood that he was the intended sacrifice of his father.
He did not struggle.
He did not break the binds.
He submitted to his father and prepared himself to be sacrificed. Ultimately, Hashem revealed his true intention, and Yisshaq was spared.
Yisshaq did not just listen to his father, but rather he submitted to him, in this, the most of extreme cases. A youth nowadays would have called their father senile, ran for the hills, and called Children Services. This was the "Shelemout" or "completeness" of Yisshaq; besides his utter bravery & worthiness to be placed on an altar, but also his complete devotion and unrelenting trust in his father.
The message is twofold: First, to the parent, to become a source of light and Torah wisdom for your child. Do not deny our proud traditions. Instead, understand them, and guide your children in them. Second, to the child, to heed the words of parent and teacher alike. Resist the temptation to dismiss what the earlier generations hold dear, rather embrace it and understand it. Together, adult and child, as Abraham & Yisshaq, will the bond between the families in our nation grow stronger.