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Parshas Vayeira: Shema Yisrael!

By Reb Eliezer Bulka

Posted on 11/06/20

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

This week's shtikle, as per tradition for parshas Vayeria, is dedicated le'ilui nishmas my brother Efrayim Yechezkel ben avi mori Reuven Pinchas, whose 44th yahrtzeit was yesterday, the 18th of Cheshvan.


As well, this coming Sunday, the 21st of Chesvan, is the 21st yahrtzeit of my great uncle, Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yisroel ben Yoel.


When HaShem instructs Avraham to take Yitzchak and perform the akeidah, He commands (22:2), "Please take your son, your only son, that you love, Yitzchak..." Rashi writes that HaShem did not want to take Avraham by surprise and thus progressed gradually as he commanded him to bring his son as a sacrifice.


Ohr HaChayim offers an interesting insight on this pasuk. He suggests that the three terms used to refer to Yitzchak, binchayechidecha, and asher ahavta correspond to three forms of love we are commanded to show HaShem. Every day in the shema, we read (Devarim 6:5) that we must love HaShem with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our resources or possessions.  The first reference, "your son," corresponds to the commandment of bechol levavecha, with all your heart, as there is no love, writes Ohr HaChayim, like the love one has for his son. Yitzchak is referred to as his only son in correlation to bechol nafshecha, with all your soul. Sacrificing Yitzchak would have left Avraham essentially childless which is tantamount to death as stated in the gemara (Nedarim 64b). Finally, Avraham loved Yitzchak more than all of his possessions and thus, asher ahavta, the son that you love, is a manifestation of bechol me'odecha. We therefore observe from this pasuk that Avraham, in carrying out the akeidah, fulfilled every necessary component of ahavas HaShem.


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A question that for some reason has only begun to bother me recently: Over the course of this parsha, much of the story actually does involve Yishmael. However, he is never identified by name – not in the narrative and not by any of the other individuals (Avraham, Sarah or the mal'ach.) What is the reason for this? Ramban and Seforno both offer explanations for why his name is left out in specific instances. But I don’t feel that satisfies the broader question of why it is left out throughout.