Vayera, Siman 23 וירא, כ״ג
1 א

וַיַּרְא אֶת הַמָּקוֹם מֵרָחוֹק. אָמַר לוֹ לְיִצְחָק, רוֹאֶה אַתָּה מַה שֶּׁאֲנִי רוֹאֶה. אָמַר לוֹ: אֲנִי רוֹאֶה הַר נָאֶה מְשֻׁבָּח וְעָנָן קָשׁוּר עָלָיו. אָמַר לִנְעָרָיו, רוֹאִין אַתֶּם כְּלוּם. אָמְרוּ לוֹ: אֵין אָנוּ רוֹאִין אֶלָּא מִדְבָּרוֹת. אָמַר לָהֶם: שְׁבוּ לָכֶם פֹּה עִם הַחֲמוֹר, הוֹאִיל וְהַחֲמוֹר אֵינוֹ רוֹאֶה וְאֵינְכֶם רוֹאִין כְּמוֹתוֹ, עַם הַדּוֹמֶה לַחֲמוֹר, שְׁבוּ לָכֶם פֹּה עִם הַחֲמוֹר, שֶׁאַתֶּם כְּמוֹתוֹ.

And he saw the place from afar off (Gen. 22:4). Abraham said to Isaac: “Do you see what I see?” “I behold a glorious mountain encircled by a cloud,” he replied. Then he asked his young men: “Do you see anything at all?” “We see only desert,” they answered. “Then abide with the ass,” he commanded, “for the ass sees nothing and you see nothing.” Abide ye here with the ass (ibid., v. 5), for ye are like unto them.

2 ב

וַאֲנִי וְהַנַּעַר נֵלְכָה עַד כֹּה. מַהוּ עַד כֹּה? נִרְאֶה מַה יִּהְיֶה בְּסוֹף כֹּה שֶׁאָמַר לִי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, כֹּה יִהְיֶה זַרְעֶךָ. וְנִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה וְנָשׁוּבָה אֲלֵיכֶם, בִּשְּׂרוֹ פִיו שֶׁיַּחְזְרוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם בְּשָׁלוֹם. וַיִּקַּח בְּיָדוֹ אֶת הָאֵשׁ וְאֶת הַמַּאֲכֶלֶת. לָמָּה מַאֲכֶלֶת? שֶׁהִיא מַתִּירָה אֶת הָאֳכָלִין לְתוֹךְ פִּיו שֶׁל אָדָם.

And I and the lad will go yonder (ibid.). What is meant by the word yonder (Heb. koh, which also means “thus, so”)? It means: “Let us see what will be the final outcome of koh. The Holy One, blessed be He, promised me: So (koh) shall thy seed be (Gen. 15:1).” And we will worship and come back to you (ibid. 22:5). His own mouth foretold him that they would both return in peace. And he took in his hand a fire and a knife (ibid., v. 6). Why was it called a slaughtering knife (ma’akhelet)? Because it made food (okhalin) suitable for eating.

3 ג

מִיָּד, וַיֹּאמֶר יִצְחָק אֶל אַבְרָהָם אָבִיו וַיֹּאמֶר אָבִי וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֶּנִי בְנִי וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה הָאֵשׁ וְהָעֵצִים וְאַיֵּה הַשֶּׂה לְעֹלָה. בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה נָפַל פַּחַד וְיִרְאָה גְדוֹלָה עַל יִצְחָק, שֶׁלֹּא רָאָה בְיָדוֹ כְּלוּם לְהִתְקָרֵב וְהִרְגִּישׁ בַּדָּבָר בְּמַה שֶּׁעָתִיד לִהְיוֹת. בִּקֵּשׁ לוֹמַר אַיֵּה הַשֶּׂה לְעֹלָה. אָמַר לוֹ: הוֹאִיל וְאָמַרְתָּ, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בָּחַר בָּךְ. אָמַר, אִם בָּחַר בִּי, הֲרֵי נַפְשִׁי נְתוּנָה לוֹ, עַל דָּמִי צַר לִי מְאֹד. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן וַיֵּלְכוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם יַחְדָּו בְּוַדַּאי, זֶה לִשְׁחֹט וְזֶה לְהִשָּׁחֵט, וְיִצְחָק בֶּן שְׁלֹשִים וָשֶׁבַע שָׁנָה הָיָה בִּשְׁעַת עֲקֵדָתוֹ.

Forthwith, And Isaac spoke unto Abraham, his father, and said: “My father.” And he replied: “Here am I, my son.” Then Isaac asked: “Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” (ibid., v. 7). Immediately, an overpowering fear and violent trembling seized Isaac, for when he saw nothing to be sacrificed, he realized what was about to transpire. Yet he asked once again: “Where is the lamb for the burnt-offering?’ And Abraham responded: “Since you ask, the Holy One, blessed be He, has selected you.” “If he has chosen me,” Isaac replied, “I shall willingly surrender my soul to Him, but I am gravely concerned about my mother.” Nevertheless, they went both of them together (ibid., v. 8), of one mind: convinced that one was to slaughter and the other to be slaughtered. Isaac was thirty-seven years old at the time of his binding.

4 ד

וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אָמַר לוֹ הָאֱלֹהִים וַיַּעֲקֹד אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ. כְּשֶׁבָּא לִשְׁחֹט, אָמַר לוֹ: אַבָּא, אָסְרֵנִי יָדַי וְרַגְלַי, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַנֶּפֶשׁ חֲצוּפָה הִיא וּכְשֶׁאֶרְאֶה אֶת הַמַּאֲכֶלֶת שֶׁמָּא אֶזְדַּעְזַע וְיִפָּסֵל הַקָּרְבָּן, בְּבַקָּשָׁה מִמְּךָ אַל תַּעַשׂ בִּי מוּם. מִיָּד, וַיִּשְׁלַח אַבְרָהָם אֶת יָדוֹ וַיִּקַּח אֶת הַמַּאֲכֶלֶת לִשְׁחֹט. אָמַר לוֹ: אַבָּא, לֹא תוֹדִיעַ אֶת אִמִּי כְּשֶׁהִיא עוֹמֶדֶת עַל הַבּוֹר אוֹ כְּשֶׁהִיא עוֹמֶדֶת עַל הַגַּג, שֶׁמָּא תַפִּיל אֶת עַצְמָהּ וְתָמוּת. מִיָּד בָּנוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם אֶת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וַעֲקָדוֹ עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, וְנָטַל אֶת הַסַּכִּין כְּדֵי לְשָׁחֳטוֹ עַד שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ רְבִיעִית דָּמוֹ. וּבָא הַשָּׂטָן וְדָחַף יָדוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם וְנָפְלָה הַסַּכִּין מִיָּדוֹ. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁשָּׁלַח יָדוֹ לְקַחְתָּהּ, יָצְאָה בַת קוֹל וְאָמְרָה לוֹ מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם, אַל תִּשְׁלַח יָדְךָ אֶל הַנַּעַר. וְאִלּוּלֵי כֵן, כְּבָר הָיָה נִשְׁחָט.

And they came to the place which God had told him of … and bound Isaac, his son (ibid., v. 9). As Abraham was about to slaughter him, Isaac cried out: “Father, bind my hands and feet, for the will to live is strong within me, and when I see the knife descending, I may tremble and the offering may become defective (as a result of the knife slipping). I implore you not to make me a blemished offering.” The Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son (ibid., v. 10). Isaac said to him: “Father, do not tell my mother about this while she is standing at the edge of a pit or a roof lest she hurl herself down and die.” After they had constructed the altar, Abraham bound Isaac upon it and took the knife in hand to slaughter him until a fourth of a measure of blood would flow from his body, Satan appeared and pushed Abraham’s hand, causing the knife to fall. As he reached out to grasp the knife again, a voice emanated from heaven, saying: Lay not thy hand upon the lad (ibid., w. 13). If this had not happened, Isaac would certainly have been sacrificed.

5 ה

בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה הָלַךְ הַשָּׂטָן אֵצֶל שָׂרָה וְנִדְמָה לָהּ כִּדְמוּת יִצְחָק. כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאֲתָה אוֹתוֹ אָמְרָה לוֹ: בְּנִי, מֶה עָשָׂה לְךָ אָבִיךָ? אָמַר לָהּ: נְטַלַנִי אָבִי וְהֶעֱלַנִי הָרִים וְהוֹרִידַנִי בְקָעוֹת וְהֶעֱלַנִי לְרֹאשׁ הַר אֶחָד וּבָנוּ מִזְבֵּחַ וְסִדֵּר הַמַּעֲרָכָה וְהֶעֱרִיךְ אֶת הָעֵצִים וְעָקַד אוֹתִי עַל גַּבֵּי הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְלָקַח אֶת הַסַּכִּין לְשָׁחֳטֵנִי. וְאִלּוּלֵי שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אַל תִּשְׁלַח יָדְךָ אֶל הַנַּעַר, כְּבָר הָיִיתִי נִשְׁחָט. לֹא הִסְפִּיק לִגְמֹר אֶת הַדָּבָר עַד שֶׁיָּצְאָה נִשְׁמָתָהּ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב, וַיָּבֹא אַבְרָהָם לִסְפֹּד לְשָׂרָה וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ. מֵהֵיכָן בָּא? מֵהַר הַמּוֹרִיָּה.

While all this was transpiring, Satan visited Sarah in the guise of Isaac. When she saw him she asked: “What did your father do to you, my son?” He replied: “My father led me over mountains and through valleys until we finally reached the top of a certain mountain. There he erected an altar, arranged the firewood, bound me upon the altar, and took a knife to slaughter me. If the Holy One, blessed be He, had not called out, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, I would have been slaughtered.” He had hardly completed relating what had transpired when she fainted and died, as it is written: And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her (ibid. 23:2). From where did he come? From Moriah.

6 ו

עִם כְּשֶׁהוּא שׁוֹחֵט, וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו מַלְאַךְ ה' מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אַבְרָהָם. לָמָּה שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים? שֶׁהָיָה מְמַהֵר וְהוֹלֵךְ לְשָׁחֳטוֹ. וַיֹּאמֶר אַל תִּשְׁלַח יָדְךָ אֶל הַנַּעַר. אָמַר לוֹ: מִי אַתָּה? אָמַר לוֹ: מַלְאָךְ. אָמַר לוֹ: כְּשֶׁאָמַר לִי קַח נָא אֶת בִּנְךָ, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ אָמַר לִי. וְעַכְשָׁו אִם הוּא מְבַקֵּשׁ, הוּא יֹאמַר לִי.

When he was about to slaughter Isaac, an angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, saying: Abraham, Abraham (ibid. 22:11). Why was his name repeated? Because he was hastening to slaughter him. And He said: Lay not thy hand upon the lad (ibid., v. 12). Abraham asked: “Who are you?” And he replied: “An angel.’ Thereupon Abraham retorted: “When I was commanded, Take now thy son, it was the Holy One, blessed be He, who spoke to me; if He now wishes to stop me, let Him tell me so.”

7 ז

מִיָּד, וַיִּקְרָא מַלְאַךְ ה' אֶל אַבְרָהָם שֵׁנִית, שֶׁלֹּא רָצָה לְקַבֵּל מִן הָרִאשׁוֹן. בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה אָמַר אַבְרָהָם לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים, אָדָם מְנַסֶּה לַחֲבֵרוֹ, שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ מַה בְּלִבּוֹ. אֲבָל אַתָּה שֶׁאַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ מַה הַלְּבָבוֹת וְהַכְּלָיוֹת יוֹעֲצוֹת, אַתָּה צָרִיךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת בִּי כֵן. אָמַר לוֹ: כִּי עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי כִּי יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים אַתָּה.

Thereupon, And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven a second time (ibid., v. 15), for he had refused to heed the first call. Then Abraham cried out to the Holy One, blessed be He: “Master of the Universe, a man tests his companion because he does not know what is in his heart, but You know what is in the heart and the kidneys, the seat of deliberation. Surely, You did not need to test me.” He answered: Now, indeed, do I know that thou art a God-fearing man (ibid., v. 12).

8 ח

מִיָּד פָּתַח הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הָרָקִיעַ וְאֶת הָעֲרָפֶל, וַיֹּאמֶר בִּי נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי נְאֻם ה'. אָמַר לוֹ: אַתָּה נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ. וַאֲנִי נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי שֶׁלֹּא אֵרֵד מִן הַמִּזְבֵּחַ עַד שֶׁאֹמַר כָּל מַה שֶּׁאֲנִי צָרִיךְ. אָמַר לוֹ: אֱמוֹר. לֹא כָךְ אָמַרְתָּ לִי, וּסְפֹר הַכּוֹכָבִים אִם תּוּכַל לִסְפֹּר אֹתָם כֹּה יִהְיֶה זַרְעֶךָ. אָמַר לוֹ: הֵן. אָמַר לוֹ: מִמִּי? אָמַר לוֹ: מִיִּצְחָק. אָמַר לוֹ: כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהָיָה בְלִבִּי מַה לַּהֲשִׁיבְךָ וְלוֹמַר לְךָ, אֶתְמוֹל אָמַרְתָּ לִי כִּי בְּיִצְחָק יִקָּרֵא לְךָ זָרַע, עַכְשָׁו אַתָּה אוֹמֵר לִי הַעֲלֵהוּ שָׁם לְעֹלָה, וְכָבַשְׁתִּי אֶת יִצְרִי וְלֹא הֵשַׁבְתִּיךָ, כָּךְ כְּשֶׁיִּהְיוּ בָנָיו שֶׁל יִצְחָק חוֹטְאִין וְנִכְנָסִין לְצָרָה, תְּהֵא נִזְכָּר לָהֶן עֲקֵדָתוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק וְתֵחָשֵׁב לְפָנֶיךָ כְּאִלּוּ אֶפְרוֹ צָבוּר עַל גַּבֵּי הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וְתִסְלַח לָהֶן וְתִפְדֵּם מִצָּרָתָן.

Thereupon, the Holy One, blessed be He, opened the sky and the cloud (surrounding Him) and said: “By myself have I sworn,” saith the Lord (ibid., v. 16). “You have sworn.” Abraham replied, “and now I swear that I shall not descend from this altar until I say what I wish to say.” “Speak,” He answered. “Did You not tell me,” said Abraham, “Count all the stars, if thou be able to count them; so shall thy seed be (Gen. 15:5)?” “Yes,” He replied. “But from whom shall my seed descend?” queried Abraham. “From Isaac,” the Holy One answered. “It was in my heart, yesterday, to remind You that You told me that Isaac was my seed, when You said to me: Take him for a burnt-offering. But I restrained myself and did not challenge You. Therefore, when Isaac’s descendants sin and are being oppressed, recall the binding of Isaac, reckon it as if his ashes were piled upon the altar, and pardon them and release them from their anguish.”

9 ט

אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, אַתָּה אָמַרְתָּ אֶת שֶׁלְּךָ וְאֹמַר אֲנִי אֶת שֶׁלִּי. עֲתִידִין בָּנָיו שֶׁל יִצְחָק לַחֲטוֹא לְפָנַי וַאֲנִי דָן אוֹתָם בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה. אֶלָּא אִם מְבַקְשִׁין שֶׁאֲחַפֵּשׂ לָהֶן זְכוּת וְאֶזְכֹּר לָהֶן עֲקֵדַת יִצְחָק, יִהְיוּ תוֹקְעִין לְפָנַי בְּשׁוֹפָר שֶׁל זֶה. אָמַר לוֹ: וּמַה הוּא הַשּׁוֹפָר? אָמַר לוֹ: חֲזוֹר לַאֲחוֹרֶיךָ. מִיָּד, וַיִּשָּׂא אַבְרָהָם אֶת עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה אַיִל אַחַר נֶאֱחָז בַּסְּבַךְ בְּקַרְנָיו. זֶה אֶחָד מֵעֲשָׂרָה דְּבָרִים שֶׁנִּבְרְאוּ בֵּין הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת.

The Holy One, blessed be He, answered: “You have spoken what was in you heart, now I will say what I wish to say. In the future Isaac’s descendants will sin against Me, and I will judge them on Rosh Hashanah. If they want Me to discover something to their credit, and to recall for their advantage the binding of Isaac, let them blow upon this shofar.” Abraham asked: “What shofar?” The Holy One, blessed be He, said: “Turn around. Then it was that Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, behind a ram caught in the thicket by his horns (Gen. 22:13). This was one of the ten things that were created at twilight.17Ten things were created by God in the twilight of Sabbath eve. See Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 2:83 and 5:169.

10 י

נֶאֱחַז בַּסְּבַךְ בְּקַרְנָיו, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: יִהְיוּ תוֹקְעִין לְפָנַי בְּקֶרֶן אַיִל וְאוֹשִׁיעֵם וְאֶפְדֵּם מֵעֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם. וְהוּא שֶׁדָּוִד מְשַׁבֵּחַ, מָגִנִּי וְקֶרֶן יִשְׁעִי מִשְׂגַּבִּי וּמְנוּסִי (ש״‎ב כב, ג). וְאֶשְׁבֹּר עֹל מַלְכֻיּוֹת מֵעֲלֵיהֶן וַאֲנַחֵם אוֹתָם בְּתוֹךְ צִיּוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: כִּי נִחַם ה' וְגוֹ'. אָמֵן.

A ram caught in the thicket by his horns (ibid.). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Abraham: “Let them blow upon the ram’s horn to Me, and I will save them and redeem them from their sins.” This is what David meant when he sang: My shield and my horn of salvation, my high tower (Ps. 18:3). Then I shall remove the yoke of exile from them and comfort them in the midst of Zion, as it is said: For the Lord hath comforted Zion (Isa. 51:3). Amen.