Friday, October 26, 2007


Rabino Raymond Beyda

The ten tests of Abraham were trials that were used by Hashem to elevateand perfect our patriarch. The Binding of Yitzchak, the Akeidah – wasperhaps the most difficult test of all. After his birth when Abraham wasone hundred years old Yitzchak was raised by his parents as royalty.Through prophecy his parents were aware that he was the next link in thechain that would produce the Chosen People. The holy parents invested allof their power in training and educating this special offspring for hisunique role in world history.

After thirty seven years Yitzchak showed signs of greatness and gave hisfather a sense of certainty that the destiny of his offspring was assured.Then came the test.

Hashem --the one who promised Abraham that Yitzchak would be his heir –commanded him to take to a place that He would show him and to bind him onthe altar as a sacrifice. The illogical command was greeted withacceptance and Abraham woke up early to do His creator’s bidding. At themoment of truth, with the knife in his hand an angel cried out to Abrahamto stop. He warned that the father should in no way harm his son. Manywould jump at the opportunity and untie the young man quickly as onecould. However, Abraham answered: “When commanded by the Master andgiven a contrary order by the servant to whom should one heed?”

The angel replied: “Now I know that you are a God-fearing man. You havenot withheld your son, your special one from me”. It was then that Abrahamuntied his son.

What did the angel say now that prompted him to listen to the servant? Hisquestion was still valid. Shouldn’t he continue the sacrifice as hismaster had commanded?

The angel’s response contained a message to Abraham. He added thewords “from me” Every mitzvah that a person does creates an angel. Thatangel will come to defend the one who created him when that soul faces theHeavenly court at the end of his life. But not all angels are the same. Ifthe mitzvah was performed unenthusiastically or even begrudgingly theangel shows imperfection. If the mitzvah was not done perfectly accordingto Torah law the angel will also be imperfect. The angel toldAbraham, “You should stop. If you don’t believe you have done G-d’s willlook at me. I am the angel created by your act and I am perfect. You cantell “from me” that you have done all that you needed to perform the willof your Maker.”

The lesson to us is that one should always strive for perfection inmitzvah performance. We must learn not only what to do but also what isthe best way to do it. We may pray give charity, help others and buy afine pair of tefillin but without Torah study can one expect a perfectperformance? Torah study also must include the study of mussar ethics andmorals to instill the proper enthusiasm and approach to the commandmentsof Hashem. As we study the lives of our patriarchs and matriarchs weshould learn from their ways how to act “perfectly”.