Avraham is described by R’ Jonathan Sacks as the most influential man who ever lived, being the father of the religions of six billion people on earth today. In last week’s parasha, his attributes as an iconoclast, a fighter against injustice, a philosopher and a father were described. This week, his qualities as a host, a husband, and again as a father are demonstrated.
R’ Sacks argued that the real lesson of the binding of Yitzchak was that children do not belong to their parents, but that they belong to G-d. Parents are the guardians but the children are their responsibility rather than their possessions. He argued that the other peoples in Avraham’s time could sacrifice their children precisely because they considered them their property, precious, but available to be offered up to appease their gods.
Nechama Leibowitz wrote that in the whole story, Yitzchak was addressed as “son” and “both of them went together”. At the end of their discussion about the lamb for the sacrifice, they were both fully and equally aware of the implications of the situation. Avraham’s aim was to perform the will of G-d, and at the same time he knew that he had been promised a nation descending from his family. Nechama Leibowiz quoted from Rav Kook who wrote that Avraham fought against emotional barbarity in the struggle towards the divine. The impression of pure divinity was too lofty and refined to be the source of religious inspiration for other peoples at the time, but Avraham showed the way.