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Issue #57 - 08/10
...have never felt any success in previous efforts to learn a language - now I do!..

Eli Dahan

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Isaac- The father who cried and didn't laugh


Isaac- The father who cried and didn't laugh

The second father after Abraham and before Jacob is Isaac, whose name literally means "the one that will laugh in the future".
But unfortunately, Isaac is the one that lives a life without enough smiles and humor. Actually, Isaac's life is full of tragedies, dependence on his wife and blindness, literal and metaphoric. who is laughing here?

In the beginning all seemed to be fine; Isaac was the one who was supposed be the second link of the chronological chain, but with precedence  over Ishmael, as written in Genesis 17:21-

"וְאֶת-בְּרִיתִי, אָקִים אֶת-יִצְחָק, אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵד לְךָ שָׂרָה לַמּוֹעֵד הַזֶּה, בַּשָּׁנָה הָאַחֶרֶת"

"But My covenant will I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year".

When Isaac was born, his mother, Sarah, said: "God hath made laughter for me;
Every one that heareth will laugh on account of me." (Genesis 21:6).

Sarah didn't know how right she was; the only thing is that everyone laughed or felt sad on account of her son! The Midrash teaches us that on the day when Isaac was born, all the barren women were healed, all the sick people were also were healed and all the prayers were answered. This is an attempt by the Midrash to make the laughing and the mocking
less visible to us!

Most of the commentators looked at Isaac as the most passive father from the three; he is the one in the middle; He continues Abraham's legacy, without leaving the promised land, he is told what to do by his father, his wife and also from his two sons Jacob and Esau.

 I think that it is not a coincidence that the most famous story about  Isaac is  the binding of Isaac, as written in Genesis 22:9-

"וַיָּבֹאוּ, אֶל-הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אָמַר-לוֹ הָאֱלֹהִים, וַיִּבֶן שָׁם אַבְרָהָם אֶת-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, וַיַּעֲרֹךְ אֶת-הָעֵצִים;

 וַיַּעֲקֹד, אֶת-יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ, וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתוֹ עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, מִמַּעַל לָעֵצִים"

"And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood"

Why doesn't he say anything to his father? Why is it that only the angel of The Lord saves Isaac from certain death?
Midrash Tanhumah tells us that even when the Satan speaks with Isaac and tells him that he is going to die -Isaac stays passive - asking his father what to do!

Unlike Jacob that needed to work 14 years in Laban's house, in order to be with Rachel, Isaac doesn't go out to look for his wife; She comes to him (watch their meeting in this-http://mikranet.cet.ac.il/pages/item.asp?item=16145).

The only active thing that he does, relates to his father, when he re-establishes the wells of water and builds an altar (see Genesis 26:18).

Until now we saw that Isaac is a mini-copy of Abraham, not an independent figure. Let us look now at his blindness and fear in Genesis 27. We all know that Jacob tricked him, with the help of his mother! The question that I want to ask deals with the point in story, when he realized that he was blind.  Isaac said:
...וַיֹּאמֶר, בָּא אָחִיךָ בְּמִרְמָה; וַיִּקַּח, בִּרְכָתֶךָ"
"וַיֹּאמֶר לְעֵשָׂו, הֵן גְּבִיר שַׂמְתִּיו לָךְ וְאֶת-כָּל-אֶחָיו נָתַתִּי לוֹ לַעֲבָדִים, וְדָגָן וְתִירֹשׁ, סְמַכְתִּיו; וּלְכָה אֵפוֹא, מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה בְּנִי

And he said: 'Thy brother came with guile, and hath taken away thy blessing... and said unto Esau: 'Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him; and what then shall I do for thee, my son?'"

Are you joking?

Your father fought with The Lord over the number and you can't change the blessing?


And now for the optimistic messages from Isaac and the narratives about him:
- He is the one that lives in his country, because the land is more important to him than anything else;
He teaches us a lot of values, especially what not to do-
Don't be passive,
Don't be blind,
Be more flexible,
Try to change the things that are important to you!

Have a great week, Eli



Main phrases of the post + transcription + translation


  מֶסֶר  meser message
עֲקָרָה   'ăqārāh   barren 
פַּחַד   pahad  fear
הֶעְתֵּק  he'tēq  copy
עָקַד   'ăqad   he bound
יִצְחָק    yitshăq   Isaac 
מוֹרֶשֶׁת  môrešet  legacy


Part of a song about Isaac/ Eran Bar Gil

"אֲנִי יִצְחָק. / הַיֶּלֶד הַהוּא יִצְחָק.  / ...אֱלֹהִים צָחַק לְאִמִּי / אִמִּי שָׁרָה
אֶת שְׁמִי כְּשֶׁבַּת שְׂחוֹק / רִחֲפָה עַל שְׂפָתֶיהָ הַסְּדוּקוֹת / וְאִלּוּ אֲנִי יִצְחָק, עָצוּב... / ...יִצְחָק  / הֶעָקוּד. הֶעָצוּב..."

" I am Isaac , this boy will laugh... The Lord laughed to my mother, my mother sang my name with a smile on

her cracked lips, and I am , Isaac, sad and bound"




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