Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Chayei Sara
קטגוריה משנית
To dedicate this lesson
I must admit: For many years, I never had the highest opinion of Yitzchak. Avraham & Sara were dynamic revolutionaries who changed the world; Yakov was the scholar & the adventurer; Rivka and Rachel the selfless women of valor who lead their husbands to glory. But Yitzchak? He is dragged around throughout his entire life – to the Akeida, to the Chupa, by his wife & kids (it seems appropriate that he lived in the city G’rar, which means "dragged!") He is distant, detached, depressed.

And his name "Yitzchak (laughter);" what’s that all about? This is such 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 la’suach." Rashi translates this word "la'suach" as "praying;" that is, Yitzchak was davening (by tradition, the afternoon/Mincha prayer). But if it means "praying," then why not use the obvious word, "l’hitpalel?"

No, the word clearly comes from the word "siyach," conversation. Yitz wasn’t just praying to G-d; he was also talking to Him! The Medrash asks why all the Matriarchs (including Leah) were initially barren & struggled mightily to have children. The Medrash replies: "Hashem desires tefila v’sicha, the prayer & the talk of the righteous."

Prayer is our lifeline to G-d, a "local call," a unique opportunity to praise, thank, acknowledge, beseech 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, on love, on the world, on G-d. He cares about what we have to say! And though we Jews may be fine 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 ever 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 (Elie Wiesel called Yitzchak "the first survivor"). He will have trouble communicating with his wife, & massive problems with his kids (sound familiar?). If Yitz spends an inordinate amount of time praying, communing, questioning & 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 & more valuable, & which activity He desires most. So - let’s do both! Talk – at least with G-d – is most definitely not cheap; it’s a priceless privilege.
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