Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Vayera

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

"And it came to pass, after all these things, that G-d tested Avraham... And He said to him, 'Please take your son, your unique one whom you have loved, Yitzchak, and go forward to the land of Moriah, and bring him up as a sacrifice there, on one of the mountains which I will indicate." [22:1-2]

After all the other trials which Avraham had undergone - including offering his own life against idolatry at Ur Kasdim, and removing himself from his homeland to follow G-d - he was now asked to offer what was for him truly the ultimate sacrifice.

After 100 years without a child with his wife Sarah, Avraham was given Yitzchak - and G-d promised Avraham that through Yitzchak, not Yishmael, he would become a great nation. Throughout his life, Avraham taught belief in the One G-d - and he also taught that G-d abhorred human sacrifice, though it was a common idolatrous practice. And Avraham acquired an excellent reputation as a teacher, leader and generous Man of G-d. And with Yitzchak learning to follow his ways, the Jewish people surely had a bright future.

And now Avraham was asked to throw it all away. No son. No reputation. From respected leader to childless laughingstock. And his response? "Hineni, I am here!" "And Avraham rose early in the morning to saddle his donkey..." [22:3] Though he had servants, he ran to perform G-d's will himself.

The greatness of human beings lies in our ability to do things which violate our every instinct. To rise above the animal within.

Having just reviewed my own material from two years ago, I see that I've almost repeated myself (please visit our web site if you'd like to compare). What good Jewish source drew me back to this topic? The Pope, who made headlines recently by ascribing some credibility to the Theory of Evolution - people made a great fuss about his statement, whether pro or con.

To Jews, it's almost irrelevant. However G-d may have brought us here, or however He may have appeared to bring us here - the fact remains that human beings are different. To use a term coined by the Chassidic Rebbe / Psychiatrist Abraham Twersky, MD, a human being is not merely "homo sapiens," but "homo spiritus" - one capable of spiritual dominance over animal instinct.

Perhaps it could even be said that the biggest practical difference between the religious person and the athiest isn't belief in G-d - but belief in ourselves. The athiest says that we are creatures of instinct, higher animals who still do all our actions to answer to one or another of our desires. Even charity is done because we cannot stand the sight of other people suffering, or because we want to feel great, important and beneficent. The Jew recognizes that it is our responsibility to do a Mitzvah, "like it or not."

You do not have to get angry. You can rise above that anger. And you can give to others even when your entire self begs to be left alone. Try it! It's not as hard as it may seem...


Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON KEDOSHIM AND PESACH:

View Complete List

Out of Order
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Faith Healer
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Cyclical Celebrations
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

There's One in Every Generation
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

Something Great and Awesome
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Make Your Parents and Teachers Proud
Shlomo Katz - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Break Free!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Pesach
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Orlah - No Shortcuts?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

> Why Women Saved the Day
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5761

Introduction to Maggid
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

A Ritual Memory Transfer
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5760

ArtScroll

In the Heart of “This Night”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

Children of the King
Shlomo Katz - 5762

A Lesson Learned
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

The Great Shabbos
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5760



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information