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Burning By Proxy

11/02/12 10:00:06


R Pesach Siegel

Burning By Proxy

Avrohom Avenu was tested. Hashem commanded him to offer his son Yitzchok upon an altar on the Mount Moriah. He performed his task with total devotion, bilev shalem. He was prepared to slaughter his son, but at the last instant he was commanded to stay his hand.

Upon returning from Har HaMoriah, Avrohom reflected. “If my son had already been slaughtered on the altar he would have died childless. I should have married him off to one of the daughters of Aner, Eshkol, and Mamreh.”

It was then that Avrohom received the tidings of the birth of Rivka, Yitzchok’s future mate.


It is clear that Hashem never wished for Avrohom Avenu to actually kill his son Yitzchok. All that He required was for Avrohom to be brought to the brink of killing his son. Avrohom was willing to sacrifice his very own future, his continuity in the world.  Thus, Avrohom openly revealed his total all consuming love for his Creator. Actually ending the life of Yitzchok was not necessary. Or so it would seem.

Why then, did Avrohom Avenu express the concern that he should have married Yitzchok to one of the daughters of the land? Why was he worried that Yitzchok would have died childless? Post-Akeida it was clear that Yitzchok Avenu was never in any real danger.

The gemara relates that when Dovid Hamelech mistakenly counted the Bnei Yisroel, a plague came upon them. Hashem sought to destroy Yerushalayim. When Hashem gazed upon the ashes of Yitzchok Avenu, He held back His hand of destruction (Brachos 62b).

Similarly, during a time of famine, the Jews would assemble and place ashes upon their heads, to bring the memory of Yitzchok’s ashes before Hashem (Taanis 16a).

What ashes?

Yitzchok wasn’t reduced to ashes. A ram was burned in his place.


Rav Yonason David, shlita, (Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Pachad Yitzchok) explains, although the Avos HaKedoshim  (our forefathers) walked this lowly earth among other men, their minds were in a higher world.

Two seamstresses could be sitting side by side. One is sewing a garment for functional use, the other is fashioning a garment imbued with holiness to be used by the Kohen Gadol upon entering the Holy of Holies. The similarities between the two end with the physical. It is a superficial comparison at best. One is sewing a garment, while the other is standing before her Creator, contemplating the deepest of mysteries, drawing His Holiness into the fabric of this world. While her nimble fingers are occupied with one thing, her mind is taken up by a holier purpose.

Hashem commanded Avrohom Avenu to sacrifice his son Yitzchok as a Korban Olah. A Korban Olah is bound and placed upon an altar, and a Korban Olah is also slaughtered. Avrohom Avenu understood that Hashem had commanded him to slaughter Yitzchok. And Avrohom Avenu was right.

There are two manners with which one can slaughter.


Rav David, shlita, explains, Hashem’s angel told Avrohom Avenu to stay his hand from physically slaughtering his son. It was then that Avrohom understood the goal of the Akeida.

The goal of the Akeida was not for Avrohom to terminate his son’s life on this earth.

The goal of the Akeida was for Avrohom Avenu to go through the experience of slaughtering his beloved son.

And this he did.

As Avrohom slaughtered the conveniently provided ram, he said with total sincerity, “I am binding this ram as if the ram is my son Yitzchok. I am slaughtering the ram as if it is my son Yitzchok. I am sprinkling the blood of the ram as if it is the blood of my son Yitzchok. And I am burning the ram and reducing it to ashes.”

While Avrohom Avenu’s hands were involved with sacrificing the ram, his soul was operating on another level. It was active in Shamayim. His soul was slaughtering Yitzchok, and ultimately burning Yitzchok.

This is a super human accomplishment. To be physically involved with one act and at the same time to be totally engrossed in a higher spiritual endeavor.

Avrohom Avenu knew that Yitzchok must be sacrificed. Were he to fail at his attempt at sacrificing Yitzchok in the heavens, he would have no other recourse but to physically sacrifice Yitzchok upon Earth.

Avrohom Avenu was actually battling for the life of his son.

Yitzchok Avenu’s life was actually in danger. Thus, Avrohom regretted delaying his marriage.

And the spiritual ashes that Avrohom Avenu created at the time of the burning of the ram are those that Hashem sees when His attention is called to them.

Wed, January 22 2020 25 Teves 5780