by Rabbi Harari
On Rosh Hashanah we read about the binding of Isaac. In one of the most well-known stories of the Bible, we are told that Abraham was commanded to take his son to Mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice to the Almighty. Just before Abraham put the knife to his son’s neck, an angel of G-d commanded him to hold off. Instead, Abraham offered an animal as a sacrifice to G-d. Why does this story have such power?
Why has this episode recounting the first patriarch’s near-sacrifice of his son maintained its hold on our thinking over the centuries?
This story has come to symbolize the supreme sacrifice that Abraham was willing to make. Even at the cost of losing the son for whom he had waited his entire life, even at the possibility of being ridiculed by others, even at the prospect of facing a lonely future, Abraham was intent on fulfilling the word of G-d. Other individuals may have run away from the task or challenged G-d’s command. Not Abraham! His faith led him in the direction of sacrifice.
It is this extreme example of sacrifice that has been upheld by Jews in the most difficult of times, when their comforts were compromised because of their allegiance to the Torah or even when their lives were threatened because of their faith. Abraham’s example of sacrifice, self-sacrifice, and unflinching faith has sustained them and continues to sustain us through the ages.