Parshas Vayeira contains one of the most important events in our history, Akeidas Yitzchak. Hashem commanded Avraham to bring his son, Yitzchak, as a korban (but not kill him) in what remains the most far-reaching show of dedication to Hashem in the history of the Jewish People. Every year on Rosh Hashanah, Hashem takes into account the Akeidah and decides to continue to support the Jewish People.
The Akeidah was the last of the ten nisyonos, loosely translated as ‘tests’, with which Hashem tested Avraham’s faith. As part of his explanation to the nisyonos, the Netziv in his commentary on Torah, Emek Davar, discusses the place of the Akeidah in Avraham’s life mission.
The story begins, “וַיְהִ֗י אַחַר֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְהָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים נִסָּ֖ה אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֔יו אַבְרָהָ֖ם וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי” “And it happened after these things that God tested Avraham and said to him, ‘Avraham,’ and he replied, ‘Here I am.” (Bereishis 22:1). The Netziv asks, why does the pasuk mention that the Akeidah occurred “after these things;” it can’t be in reference to the event recorded right before the Akeidah, because all the recorded events preceding this story happened decades beforehand!
A nisayon is not given to a person in order that they should pass or fail, it is an opportunity given to us by Hashem to take latent spirituality and turn it into an active part of our personality. Even if we can’t achieve the level presented to us at the time of the nisayon, we don’t lose any amount of spirituality; we simply don’t achieve that new level. Furthermore, Hashem will certainly give us an opportunity later on to achieve.
The Akeidah was the last nisayon given to Avraham; it was the culmination of a lifetime of working on himself until he reached the pinnacle level presented to him. With each previous nisayon, Hashem promised Avraham more and more. First, He promised him Eretz Yisrael, then He promised him tremendous and numerous progeny, the He made him “אַבְרָהָם”, the “father of many nations”, among other things. And now, this is the final piece. With the Akeidah, Avraham achieved what he needed to as the ancestor of the Jewish People, and from then on, his job was done. In fact, after the story of the Akeidah, Hashem didn’t speak to Avraham again for the rest of his life! Therefore, the pasuk says, “אַחַר֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה”, in reference to the other nine nisyonos that Avraham achieved, to emphasize that the Akeidah was the apex of the entire process of the nisyonos.
This explanation answers another question about the Akeidah. It can be argued that Yitzchak put in just as much dedication as Avraham. So how come the pasuk only considers this a nisayon for Avraham and not Yitzchak? According to how we’ve explained, it makes sense. Yitzchak was not responsible for the Jewish People the same way Avraham was, so this opportunity was not designed for him. Therefore, he was not given credit for it in the same manner Avraham was (though he was certainly received reward).
This is not the first time we have discussed the Akeidah, and every time we uncover a new angle which illuminates the path of our forefathers. As we discussed last week, the stories found in Bereishis about our ancestors show us where we come from and what they did to insure that we would be placed in the best position for us to succeed.
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