The possuk says, “And these were the children of Yitzchak, the son of Avraham; Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak.” We all know Rashi’s famous question: “If the verse says that Yitzchak is the son of Avraham, why does it repeat that Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak?” One of the reasons given is that there were scoffers in Avraham’s times who said that Sarah conceived Yitzchak when she was abducted by Avimelech, and Yitzchak was an illegitimate child. Therefore, Hashem made Yitzchak look just like his father Avraham, so that everyone could easily see that Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak.
If this is the reason for the double statement in the verse, it should have been mentioned at Yitzchak’s birth, instead of here where the Torah relates his marriage to Rivkah. The reason it is mentioned here is because when he married Rivkah his countenance changed and he took on the appearance of his father. Why did Hashem cause such a miracle to happen now?
Another difficulty arises: Our holy Patriarchs fulfilled every Torah commandment, long before the Torah was given to the Jewish people. They also kept the oral law. If so, why were they not careful to get married at eighteen years of age? Yitzchak was forty years old when he took Rivkah as is wife.
The basic answer for this is that Yitzchak’s destined wife was only born when he was thirty seven years old. He couldn’t have married her sooner anyway. This brings us to another question: Why indeed did Hashem send down the neshama of Yitzchak’s wife when he was at such an advanced age?
We can try to explain this as follows: Avraham was tested when he was a youngster in Ur Kasdim, and he showed his readiness to sacrifice his life for Hashem. Hashem saved him miraculously and he later had a son Yitzchak, although people claimed he was not his real son. When Yitzchak was tested with the Akeida and he showed the same readiness as his father had to give his life to Hashem, people admitted that he must really be Avraham’s son. He submitted to Hashem’s will, telling his father to tie him securely to the altar so that he should not involuntarily ruin the Akeida. By overcoming this major test, he merited to have his face take on the appearance of his holy father.
Now that the scoffers’ claims were finally disproved and no one challenged his legitimacy, Hashem send down the neshama of his life-partner. Hashem did not want any inappropriate matches to be suggested to Yitzchak, due to his questionable background. When his status was established publicly, Avraham was finally notified that Yitzchak’s wife was born. This is why the verse says after the Akeida that Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak, and this is why Yitzchak was forty years old when he married Rivkah.
It is somewhat puzzling to see the many prayers in which we mention Akeidas Yitzchak. We constantly beseech Hashem to remember the Akeida in our favor. It is certainly a great thing that Yitzchak was prepared to give his life for Hashem, but in the end he survived. In contrast, how many Jews were unfortunately sacrificed to Hashem throughout the ages? How many of our people gave their lives in order not to forsake their faith? How many were murdered, butchered and massacred in every single generation and in every single country? So why do we repeatedly mention the Akeida? Don’t we have more than enough cases in which Jews were not merely bound to the altar but were indeed slain?
The answer to this is, that by mentioning the Akeida we plead to Hashem: “You commanded Avraham to bring his son as an offering to You, but in the end You retracted Your command and told him not to harm the lad. You showed the world that You do not desire human sacrifices. Unlike all other cults of idol worship where human sacrifices are a form of religious service, You detest such practices.”
So we cry out to Hashem, “Look how many Jews have already been sacrificed in Your name! Please remember the Akeida in our favor and command that Your children should not be harmed, just like Yitzchak was not harmed! It was enough for You that he was bound to the alter. Our readiness to die for You should likewise be enough and You should not allow our enemies to harm us.”
Yirmiyahu cried, “Who will open a fountain in my head so that my eyes should pour rivers of tears; and I will mourn all day and night the slain of my people!” Yirmiyahu felt every Jew’s pain and he cried along with every person’s suffering.
If we look around us, we see all the signs of the approaching Redemption. We see things happening which indicate the arrival of the days of Moshiach. It won’t take long for the “sudden appearance of our Lord,” when Hashem’s glory will be revealed.
But until then we hear such terrifying stories, it breaks every heart! A young couple settled in a distant city to help spread Yiddishkeit. There is hardly a Jewish soul in that spiritually forsaken place, but they reached out to everyone, providing nourishing kosher meals and daily minyanim with mesiras nefesh. They did all this for Hashem’s honor, so that Jews traveling in that distant country should be able to maintain their standards of Yiddishkeit.
Along with them other Jews were slain – Jews who traveled the world to provide us with kosher food. They left their families behind and were away for days, in order to help us keep kashrus.
Alas! What happened these last few days is beyond human understanding! Our hearts are gripped by terror. Why did this happen? Why did they deserve this? Their only sin was that they were Jews who believe in Hashem! Who can place himself in their shoes and feel their terror and anguish?
Every day, we declare our readiness to give up our lives for Hashem by saying “Shema Yisroel.” Who knows how many times they cried Shema Yisroel, as death stared them in the face? The guns were pointed to their heads; the wicked enemies showed no mercy. What did the hapless victims think before they died? They thought about their innocent wives and children and worried what would happen to them. Seeing that they weren’t killed immediately, they held on to the hope that they would survive in the end. Every moment of life was a miracle, and they hoped the miracle will not be in vain. As the hours passed and they were still alive, they surely fulfilled the dictum of our sages not to despair of Heavenly mercy even when the sword is on a person’s neck. They hoped to be reunited with their families. They hoped they’d celebrate their deliverance and that they’d be able to recount the miracles they experienced.
But, Alas! Klal Yisroel had their eyes pinned on India, hoping to hear good news about our brothers who were held hostage. We waited to hear that they were spared in the end. Oh, how we hoped to hear this! How happy all of Klal Yisroel would have been to receive such tidings! But unfortunately, we did not merit this and our brothers were torturously murdered. The fire that consumed them is still burning, and the pain is still so strong and fresh.
Who can feel the pain of the unfortunate families? Who can feel along with the victims’ heartbroken parents, with the grief-stricken widows and orphans? What could we say to them? Ribbono Shel Olam, You are the Father of orphans and Judge of widows. You alone must console them because there is nothing we can do.
Everyone who is a father should think how he would have felt if one of the victims would have been his own son. He would be inconsolable. It happened right befo