Beyond a destiny
by Rabbi Yaacov Chaiton
The "binding of Isaac" - when Abraham demonstrated utmost dedication to G-d by being willing to sacrifice his own son at G-d's request, only to be told at the last moment that it was only a test - seems to be quite a central event in our history. We mention it in our daily prayers, on Rosh Hashana, on Yom Kippur and at every opportunity we remind G-d to recall this act in our favor. But come to think of it, was this a truly unique event? There were always (and continue to be) people who were so committed to their religion or cause, to the point that they were willing to be martyred for it. So why the big deal about the "binding of Isaac"?
Yes, we've all heard of people so committed to a cause that they are willing to give their lives for it. The fact that we've heard about such events demonstrates how powerful the act itself was in gaining publicity for the cause or belief. But how many people have you heard of who have been willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause, knowing at the same time that it would have the reverse effect - that it would bring to the end of their belief or cause?
Sound strange? Well that's exactly what Abraham was willing to do: Abraham had spent his entire life spreading his belief in G-d throughout the world. At the age of 100 Abraham had a son who he called Isaac. G-d promised Abraham that it would only be through Isaac that Abraham's belief system would be spread to future generations. When G-d asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (who had no children at the time), He was effectively asking Abraham to give up his entire destiny, to sacrifice the entire continuity of his faith. Had Abraham sacrificed Isaac there would be no Jewish people, no holy-land and no one would even have known the greatness of this man called Abraham and his message for the world.
But Abraham was willing to oblige because his commitment and dedication to G-d was so deep and unquestioning that it transcended all forms of logic and reason. For him, his connection to G-d and his willingness to carry out G-d's wish was far more important than any cause or personal destiny - as essential and important as they could possibly be. It is this act of true self-sacrifice that makes the "binding of Isaac" a truly unique event.