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Every Step Counts!

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil

It was a scorching hot day, and Avraham was recovering from his Brit Mila.

The Torah relates what happens next:

“And he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing beside him, and he saw and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and he prostrated himself to the ground. (Bereshit 18:2)

The Torah seems to go out of its way to emphasize and explain in depth this whole episode. Why are we told that he lifted his eyes? Why the stress on “and he saw”? Why the description of him running and prostrating?

Tests play a great part in Avraham’s life.

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot relates how Avraham was tested ten times and surpassed them all.

From the moment we are really introduced to Avraham we are told about his tests.

Two of his most famous tests were the leaving of his home to go towards Eretz Yisrael (Lech Lecha) and the Akeida – binding/offering of his son Yitschak.

These two tests share something in common.

When Hashem tells Avraham to go to Israel, He says “Lech Lecha” – go from “your land, from your birth place and from your father’s place to the land that I will show you.”

Our Sages note that the wording here seems to be superfluous. The sentence could have been shortened to – Go to Israel!

The same thing seems to occur at the Akeida.

Hashem appears to Avraham and tells him Kach – “Take your son, your only son, the son you love, Yitschak and offer him up.”

Why didn’t Hashem just tell him from the beginning to take Yitschak?

Rashi citing the Midrash lends insight in to the matter.

When Hashem told Avraham to take his son Avraham responded “I have two sons”. Hashem said to him:”Your only one.”

Avraham said: “This one is the only son of his mother, and that one is the only son of his mother.”

Hashem said to Avraham: “Whom you love.

Avraham responded:”I love them both.”

To which Hashem said “Yitschak”.

Rashi asks, why did Hashem not disclose this to him at the beginning?

One of the explanations he offers is that it was to endear the commandment to him and to reward him for each and every expression.

When Hashem increases the command, and explains bit by bit, it is in order to increase the reward of the Tsadik.

Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz zts’l once gave an awesome Mashal to explain this.

Two people in the community had new houses; both were splendid and beautiful, but the owners referred to their houses differently.

The first received the house as a present. Unfortunately someone had passed away and had left the house as an inheritance. It was a beautiful house and when the first visitor came in he was impressed. Wow where did you get this from? I received it as a gift – was the reply.

The second person in the community had built his house from scratch and personally made it into the mansion it was.

When he received his first visitor, he sat him down with a coffee and started to explain to him the origins of his great project.

“I bought the land ten years ago, and then I brought four architects to survey the place. I chose the best…it took a year to draw up the plans. Then we made sure to get the most advanced building materials. We bought the stone from Jerusalem and the furniture from Italy. The marble was specially made, the lights were designed with the latest technology and we have invested a great deal in this house.”

Rabbi Yerucham explained that when we build for ourselves then we take great pride in each step we take. We want all to know the hardships we have been through in order to make our house beautiful.

Rabbi Elazar said in the name of Rabbi Chanina: The students of the wise increase peace in the world, as it says, “And all your children (Banayich) will be taught of the Eternal and great shall be the peace of your children (Banayich). Do not read banayich (your children) but bonayich (your builders).” Berachot (64)

We are all builders. We take a step by step approach to life, building our destiny. We must be proud of the destiny we have built.

Avraham was in pain on the third day of his Brit Mila, nevertheless his eyes were lifted, he wanted guests, he looked, he saw and he ran towards them, each action a part of the building, each action warranting great reward.

When Hashem first appeared to Avraham and told him to go to Israel, He could have simply said go to Israel. But He wanted to stress that He understands that there were levels to this test; leaving his country, leaving his birthplace, leaving his fathers house, each level was appreciated and each level would be rewarded.

Similarly when Hashem commands Avraham regarding the Akeida He stresses, your son, your only son Yitschak – for He wants to bring out the idea that each level is cause for reward, each action and thought in the fight to serve Hashem will be rewarded.

Life’s tests are many, but we should be assured that we will be rewarded for every action we take towards the servitude of Hashem.

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