Don’t Judge A Person By the text by Dov Rossman

(2004/5765) Out of the three Avot, the Torah mentions Yitzchak the
least, and consequently we know relatively little about his life. Even
in the few places where events in Yitzchak’s life are detailed, he is
usually not the main character. For example, the story of the Akeida
is told in reference to the greatness of Avraham Avinu and not of
One event involving Yitzchak that the Torah does mention
is in Parshat Toldot when Yitzchak reopens the wells which
Avraham dug. But this event does not tell us much about Yitzchak’s
personality, and its relevance, at first glance, is questionable.
However, Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soleveitchik z”l, states that the
amount of text dedicated to Yitzchak should not reflect on his
greatness, but instead should be as an indication of his exclusive
devotion to Hashem.
Kabbalah connects each of the Avot’s personalities to an
attribute of Hashem. Avraham represents Chessed, Yitzchak
represents Gevura, and Yaakov represents Emet. The Rav explains
that Avraham’s trait of kindness is expressed at length because it
involves moving away from one’s self to help others. Yitzchak’s
trait, however, is the opposite; it is one’s retreat towards Hashem.
Yitzchak remained in connection with Hashem for a majority of his
life because much of his life was private with Hashem. Thus, the
Torah tells us little about him. Yitzchak even waits until after the
Akeida to get married, as up until that point he belonged exclusively
to Hashem. When he was lying on the Mizbeiach as a Korban to
Hashem, he was at the peek of his relationship with Hashem. Then,
once he had reached the highest level of his connection with
Hashem, he was able to move outward while still retaining his
Gevurah along with an additional trait of Chessed, which he learned
from his father.
Even though it seems irrelevant to the reader, and in doing
so the Torah gives no praise to Yitzchak, the Torah tell us about
Yitzchak reopening the wells that his father had dug. The
significance of the event becomes clearer when viewing the entire
life of Yitzchak Avinu. After the Plishtim closed Avraham’s wells, not
only did Yitzchak reopen them, but he gave them their original
names as well. This shows the significant transition of Yitzchak
becoming a more public person, and continuing in the ways of his
In addition to reopening the wells, Yitzchak dug three new
wells. The Plishtim objected to the construction of the first two
wells, but not of the third. The Ramban states that these three wells
can be compared to the three Batei Hamikdash. The first two were
destroyed because of the objection of the other nations, but the third
will be built with no objection, thus causing our borders to expand.
Yitzchak not only went from being private to reaching out to a
spouse, but he gave hope for hundreds of generations to come.
-Adapted from an article written by Rabbi Shalom Baum in Torah

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