Sunday, October 31, 2010

Yitzchak ben Avraham


Parashat TOLDOT starts with the words:

"And these are the generations of Yitzchak Ben Avraham (the son of Avraham) - Avraham begot Yitzchak".

Why does the Torah mention the same content twice in the same sentence?
Rashi commentates that G - d wanted to make it very clear that, despite the advanced age of Avraham and Sarah, Avraham was the father of Yitzchak and not Avimelech or anyone else. In fact, there were rumours going around in those days that Avraham could not have been the father of Yitzchak but that Sarah had another man. This is the reason why G - d stated very clearly that Avraham was the father. Furthermore, G - d created Yitzchak very much in the image of his father. Meaning: The totally looked alike and people got mixed up whether they spoke to the father or to the son.

In Parashat Lech Lecha 17:18 ff., G - d lets Avraham know that He is going to continue the (Jewish) generations with Yitzchak. Moreover, G - d is going to continue His covenant with Yitzchak.

In Parashat Vayera 22:2 ff., G - d commands Avraham to take Yitzchak (the Torah refers to Yitzchak here "Avraham's only son") and go to the Land of Moriah (today's Temple Mount). What follows is the "Akedat Yitzchak - Sacrificing Yitzchak". Although Avraham also takes Ishmael with him, he later on tells him to wait and goes away with Yitzchak in order to sacrifice him.

In Parashat Chaye Sarah 25:21 ff., we become aware of the main difference between Ishmael and Yitzchak. In Chaye Sarah, the Torah calls Ishmael the son of Avraham to whom the Egyptian Hagar, Sarah's servant, gave birth.

Parashat Toldot, however, starts with the list of the generations of Yitzchak. Yitzchak the son of Avraham; Avraham begot Yitzchak. Whereas Parashat Chaye Sarah refers to Ishmael more as the son of Hagar, the servant. The RASHBAM states in his commentary that there is a main difference here: Ishmael is the son of the servant and Yitzchak is referred to as the "real" son of Avraham. The Rashbam and the Kli Yakar commentate that the verse in Toldot mentions only Avraham who begot Yitzchak. Furthermore, the Kli Yakar states that the Torah refers to Ishmael as the son of Hagar because he took over her bad behaviour as well as the Egyptian culture. Yitzchak only followed the traditions of Avraham and waited until he found a righteous wife and did not take any Canaanite woman as a wife. Ishmael, however, married an idol -worship woman.

The commentators see the main difference in the two statements of the Torah about Yitzchak and Ishmael and the entire content shows us that Yitzchak was chosen by G - d and not Ishmael (as the Arabs claim).

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