In this week Parashah, we read the famous story of Akeidat Yitzchak, the sacrificing of Yitzchak. As the story goes, Avraham is commanded by Hashem to take Yitzchak, his son to the top of a particular mountain in Eretz Moriah, and to sacrifice him to Hashem. At the last moment, Hashem saves Yitzchak’s life and Avraham passes his final test with flying colors. Immediately, the question arises: what did Hashem want to see from Avraham through this test?
To understand this, we must look at the section of the Parashah where Avraham is first commanded to fulfill this requirement. The Pasuk writes, “Kach Na Et Bincha Et Yechidcha Asher Ahavta Et Yitzchak” “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Yitzchak” (BeReishit 22:2). Rashi comments on the words, “Asher Ahavta” that Hashem is referring to the love which He has for both Avraham and Yitzchak. Based on this simple Rashi, we can learn what the goal of the test is. Hashem wants to examine whether or not Avraham has the same level of love for Hashem as Hashem has for him.
Rav Moshe Taragin presents an alternative understanding the series of events of the Akeidah. He explains that the real test was not of Avraham’s Ahavat Hashem, but rather, his Yir’at Hashem. According to Rav Taragin the definition of Ahavat Hashem is the understanding of Hashem’s actions. This feat Avraham has already previously accomplished; now the test with which he is presented is the test of his Yir’at Hashem. Yir’at Hashem, according to Rav Taragin, is the acceptance of God’s ways even if one does not understand it fully. And this is the exact thing which Avraham must do in this case. He does not know why Hashem wants him to sacrifice Yitzchak. However, Avraham is forced to recognize that he will never fully understand the actions or requests of Hashem. And once he arrives at that realization, he is able to be Hashem’s servant with a complete commitment.
This message based on Rav Taragin’s approach is a powerful one. Often, we will never fully understand Hashem’s actions whether good or bad. Despite this, it is still our obligation to fulfill His actions and requests in the best way possible, because we must recognize that we will never fully understand His actions, and because of it, cannot anticipate the results that will follow. And once we will come to that realization like Avraham did, we will be able to commit ourselves to being Hashem’s servants and hopefully have the Zechut to pass all of our tests in life.