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Children of Isaac

On the verse, “And these are the generations of Isaac the son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac,” the question arises: Why does the verse repeat itself? If it tells us that “Isaac is the son of Abraham,” isn’t it obvious that “Abraham begot Isaac”?

One explanation is that the second phrase explains the first. Generations came forth from Isaac, because Abraham begot Isaac. If not for Abraham, Isaac would not have existed at all.

The role of Abraham, as the Torah explains, was unique. Abraham was the first Jew, and the only Jew of his generation. The entire world population of his time was on one side, with Abraham on the other. He was the sole monotheist, the only person to reject the idol worship of his time in favor of the One true G-d. Nevertheless, he publicized G-d’s name wherever he could, to whomever he could reach: “Abraham called in the name of G-d, the L-rd of the world.”

Abraham bequeathed this behavior as an inheritance to his son Isaac, and thus prepared him to beget the “generations of Isaac,” which refer not only to physical children but to Torah, mitzvoth and acts of kindness. As our sages teach, the true offspring of the righteous are their good deeds. Furthermore, this led to the begetting of Isaac’s physical offspring; his descendents who would receive the Torah and remain loyal to it for generations.

The lesson for us is clear. When we contemplate the state of the world around us, it may appear that we live in a world where evil flourishes and the wicked prevail. There are many obstacles in the path of observing Torah and mitzvoth, and much of our day is spent in pursuits that are not exactly holy. So we may think: from wither will we take the strength to withstand all these challenges?

The answer for us is in this week’s Torah portion. “The deeds of the fathers are a symbol for the children.” What our forefathers did was forge a path for us, and give over to us the power to be able to accomplish what we need to do, in our own time. “Abraham begot Isaac.” How did Isaac get the strength to be Isaac? Because his father was Abraham, the forefather of the Jewish people. Just as Abraham was not intimidated by the world around him, and stood up to all the challenges to declare the unity of G-d—every Jew likewise has that power. We can prevail against the tides, stand our ground and go forth for what we know as truth.

When we fulfill “the offspring of Isaac,” meaning Torah, mitzvoth and acts of kindness, we, too, will merit to have literal “offspring of Isaac.” We, as Isaac’s descendents, will overcome all external forces that are against G-d and His Torah, and will merit the immediate Redemption with Moshiach.


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