Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Chayei Sara
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Cheshvan 23 5779
I must admit: For many years, I questioned the greatness of Yitzchak. Avraham & Sara were unique, dynamic revolutionaries who changed the world; Yakov was the scholar and the adventurer; Rivka & Rachel the selfless women of valor who lead their husbands to glory.

But Yitzchak? He is dragged around throughout his entire life: first to the Akeida, then to the Chupa, then by his wife & kids - no wonder he lived in the city of G'rar, which means "dragged!" He seems to be distant, detached, depressed. And his name Yitzchak (laughter); what’s that about? This is a funny guy?! I don’t think so!

But, of course, I was naive. I misjudged Yitzchak. I didn’t quite get it. But now I think I do.

It starts with a pasuk in our Sedra, the very first time we encounter Yitzchak since the traumatic Akeida. The pasuk says: And Yitzchak went out in the field "lasuach." Rashi translates this word "la'suach" as praying; that is, Yitzchak was davening (by tradition, the evening/Maariv prayer). But if it means praying, then why not use the more obvious & common word, l’hitpalel?

No, the term clearly connects to the word "siyach," conversation. Yitz wasn’t just praying to G-d; he was also talking to Him! The Medrash, elsewhere, asks why all the Matriarchs (including Leah) were initially barren & struggleD to have children. The Medrash replies: "Hashem desires the prayer & the talk/siyach of the righteous." G-d knows that only in the depth of our despair can we utter our most sincere & heartfelt prayers to Him.

But prayer, my friends, is not enough. G-d also wants us to TALK to Him, to express our inner feelings & share our concerns, our thoughts on life, love, the world, on G-d. He cares about what we have to say! And though we Jews maybe great daveners, scrupulous in every syllable, we don’t often just pull up a chair & talk to G-d, who, after all, is a Great Listener who won’t get distracted or interrupt us!

Yitzchak has a lot to talk to G-d about. His mother is dead, his father took him to be sacrificed, & he came this close to death. He has trouble communicating with his wife, & massive problems with his kids (sound familiar?). So if he spends an inordinate amount of time praying, communing, beseeching & discussing with Hashem, can you blame him? The two of them have a lot to work out.

And so do we. There is a time to pray to G-d, & a time to close our Siddur & talk to Him. And I’m not sure which is more holy & valuable, & which He desires most. So, let’s do both! Talk - at least with G-d - is anything but cheap.
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