Rav Moshe Weiss
Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Vayeira
PLEASE DAVEN FOR DOVID CHIZKIA BEN SHIMA,
B’SOCH SHA’AR CHOLEI YISROEL
The situation is critical
We often discuss the gevurah of Yitzchok Aveinu, and how the akeidah epitomized this trait. So great was his devotion to the service of Hashem that he was willing to give up his life to achieve it. Yitzchok had no sense of self, and it was only the Will of God that drove him. Thus, Yitzchok symbolizes unwavering determination to Hashem, and represents the ability we all have inside of us to reach this lofty madreigah of incredible mesiras nefesh, no matter what we may face. But I believe there is an even deeper lesson for us to learn.
Yitzchok’s demonstration at the akeidah was more than just mere mesiras nefesh, it was a burning love for Hashem that resonated inside his soul. The Torah tells us that when Yitzchok became aware that he was to be the sacrifice for Hashem, he continued onward with the very same alacrity and vigilance as that of his father Avraham. We see here not just a willingness to accept his fate and give Hashem that which He desired, but an eagerness to fulfill the will of Hashem.
We say each day in the first paragraph of Shema that a person must strive to love Hashem bechol nafshecha, with all of his soul. We find a dispute between R’ Eliezer and R’ Akiva as to the exact parameters of this mitzvah. R’ Eliezer groups it together with the next few words, uvechol meodechah, and with all your possessions, and thus explains that the Torah refers to two different types of people. Whichever is more important to him - his life or his money - he must be willing to give it all up for Hashem. Now, however we are able to understand the possibility that one’s possessions can be more important to him than his life (see Nahar Shalom, comments to Bereishis 22:8, where this is discussed), R’ Eliezer’s opinion effectively limits the extent of the obligation to love Hashem to accepting whatever He decrees. If this is what Hashem wants, one must be ready and able to accept with love.
R’ Akiva says something different entirely. He expounds the verse to mean that a person must love Hashem afilu Hu notel es nafshecha, even if He takes your life. We must not merely be on the madreigah to accept, but we must gain a level where even should Hashem come —at a moment’s notice — and take our life, we are ready. We are obligated to love Hashem so much that we are constantly in a state of happiness and serenity to have our lives taken, should that suddenly become His will! This is the highest and most pure level of ahavas Hashem imaginable. This was the gevurah that Yitzchok showed on the way to the akeidah. So strong was his love, so potent was his desire to please Hashem, that the sudden realization of his impending death did not cause him to hesitate, but rather spurred him on further! Yitzchok then became the pillar of gevurah, an example and a lesson for his descendants for all time.
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Written by R’ Moshe Weiss