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Different & Identical


When the Torah introduces us to Isaac’s family, the verse reads: “And these are the offspring of Isaac, son of Abraham—Abraham begot Isaac.” What is the point of stating, “Abraham begot Isaac''? That seems quite obvious.


The Midrash explains that there were those who wanted to claim that Isaac had been fathered by Avimelech, the king of Philistine. To prevent this, G-d made sure that Isaac’s physical features resembled Abraham’s in a striking manner. There was now no room for doubt that Isaac was Abraham’s son.


When it came to their spiritual makeup, however, Abraham and Isaac were seemingly worlds apart.


Abrahams’ primary mode of Divine service was via loving kindness (chesed). This was demonstrated by his “open tent” policy. He opened his home to hungry passersby. He reached out and taught others with patience and sensitivity.

Isaac’s primary service, on the other hand, was via the attribute of severity and restraint (gevurah). This was demonstrated by his perseverance in his digging of wells. Even as his enemies kept filling them to ruin them, Isaac dug through the rocks and the dirt to uncover the waters beneath. With sharpness and strength, he dug away the evil that was seen on the surface to reveal the reservoirs of goodness and truth buried deep within.


Indeed, everything we learn about Abraham and Isaac tells us how different they were from one another. And yet, they were still father and son - their ultimate focus and goals were one and the same. They were both completely devoted to G-d and working towards making the world a more holy and moral place to live.

As children of Abraham and Isaac, we carry their legacy. Each individual was endowed with our own gift and talents, and none of us are truly alike. However, when it comes to our essential goals of living and being true to the Torah, there is a beautiful resemblance among all the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!

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