Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayera
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

R. Avraham ben-tziyon ben shabtai

Parashat Vayera

Abraham's kindness, overcame all obstacles for fellow men. Sarah teaches us that Yitzchak's job is to continue the Godly plan and Ishmael is to help him, not disturb him. The holy Land is Yitzchak inheritance, not Ishmael's. The greatness of Abraham when he performed The Binding of Yitzchak.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

heshvan 5756
1. Nature of Kindness
2. Yitzchak and Ishmael
3. 'Akedat Yitzchak' - The Binding of Yitzchak

Nature of Kindness
Our great forefather Avraham was a man of many attributes, one of which is described with additional emphasis - kindness. Avraham did not perform his acts of kindness because he was commanded to, or because he considered it the correct thing to do. Avraham was kind because that was his nature. This nature was so extreme in him that when Avraham was not performing an act of kindness he felt uncomfortable. Avraham was constantly on the lookout for further possibilities of bestowing kindness on his fellow man, therefore, even at midday and in pain, he sat impatiently at the entrance of his tent waiting for visitors. Avraham's kind nature, would not allow him to hear of the plan to destroy the people of Sodom - as bad as they might have been - without trying to save them.

Yitzchak and Ishmael
Yitzchak (Isaac) and Ishmael were quarreling. Sarah tells us that the quarrel is about their inheritance. Ishmael, as the firstborn, claims an additional benefit of Avraham's possessions, and most important - the rights to the Land of Israel. This claim causes Sarah to demand Avraham, "Expel this woman and her son"(Ishmael and his mother). Avraham found expelling them contradictory to his nature. At this point God intervenes and instructs Avraham: "All you are told by Sarah - do".

God's instruction expresses a clear assignment of duties: Yitzchak is to follow Avraham's way of life. His job is to continue the Godly plan in this world. Ishmael's job is to help Yitzchak successfully accomplish his obligation. When Ishmael misunderstands his duty and demands equal rights, there is no choice but - "Expel this woman and her son".

Nowadays, the situation has not changed in the least. Our kind nature causes us great difficulties when we need, once again, to "Expel this woman and her son". Even so, it has to be clear to us that whenever Ishmael demands rights to Avraham's inheritance of the Holy Land, we are obliged to follow Sarah's instruction.

'Akedat Yitzchak' - The Binding of Isaac
Throughout the generations we have witnessed many people who sacrificed all, so as to accomplish a dream or idea, or reach a certain thing they believed in. What is so great about Akeda? What was so impressive in Avrahams sacrifice?
The answer rests in two important differences between the Akeda and all other sacrifices.
The Significance of the Akeda
The people who made sacrifices throughout the generations, made them for the sake of their belief. The Akeda demanded of Avraham a sacrifice that opposed not only his nature but also his whole way of life. Avraham was asked to sacrifice his dearest son while trampling his most basic instinct, kindness. This act was especially difficult for Avraham; therefore, he is cited as having overcome himself.

The Importance of Yitzchak to Avraham
Yitzchak was far more than a son to Avraham. Yitzchak was the only promise Avraham had for the continuation of his spiritual way of life - A way he built up during more than a hundred years and taught to Yitzchak. This undertaking was now in danger of extinction. At the Akeda Avraham was asked to sacrifice not only his only son but also to endanger the continuation of the unique belief he had developed all his life.

Avraham not only performs his duty to perfection, but also makes an extra effort to do it efficiently and happily. Avraham rises himself early, personally saddles his donkey, and cops the wood. He performs all the duties himself in the hope that the assignment will be altered.
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