“Take your son, your only son, the one you love, v'lech lecha, and go for yourself to the land of Moriah” (22:2). So begins the command of G-d demanding the sacrifice of Yitzchak. After waiting so long to have a child with Sarah, Abraham was commanded to take his child and return him to G-d. In the face of such a command Abraham was silent—or shall we say speechless?—unable to comprehend the Divine will even as he arose early to carry it out.
We tend to view Adam as a failure at life, unable to obey his only command from G-d. Noach was better, yet many see him as one who could have accomplished so much more than what he did. Only with the advent of Avraham do we have the person capable of bringing G-d’s message to mankind.
“And Terach’s years were 205 years, and Terach died in Charan. G-d said to Abram, Go away from your land, your birthplace and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you” (11:30-12:1).
One of the central motifs of the biblical narrative is food. Matzah, manna, mei merivah highlight the crucial role of food in shaping the course of Jewish history. The entire course of human destiny was changed due to Adam and Eve’s eating from the eitz hada'at.
Our patriarchs and matriarchs did not have easy lives. Each faced problems of famine, of wandering from place to place, of foreign rulers, and of course, problems with their children. Our founding mothers and fathers often disagreed, sharply at times, on the most basic of decisions relating to the raising of their families. The dispute between Abraham and Sarah as to the place of Yishmael in their household was so fierce that G-d had to intervene, instructing Abraham to listen to Sarah (whose insight was apparently much better than her husband's).
Names play a significant role in Jewish thought. A cursory glance at the names given to the twelve tribes signifies the importance of each name. Noach, Moshe, and Yitzchak had their names chosen to commemorate events surrounding their births. And of course, the Torah records many instances where a name was changed, signifying a change in the status of the person. Of our three patriarchs, Abraham and Yaakov both had their names changed by G-d. Only Yitzchak remained Yitzchak his entire life.
Judaism eschews extremism. This obligation to be moderate is codified into law by no less an authority than the Rambam; it is, as he points out, "the path of G-d" (Deot 2:7). Furthermore, the goal is not limited to the development of traits of moderation in our attitude towards money, food, or honour; it is to make them second nature to us.