Sacrificing Your Faith for Your G-d

November 2, 2017 at 2:35 AM , , ,
“…Please take your son, your only son, who you love, Yitzchak, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for a burnt offering…” – (Bereishit 22:2)

״…קח נא את בינך את יחידך אשר אהבת את יצחק ולך לך אל ארץ המוריה והעלהו שם לעולה…״ – בראשית כב, ב

Yitzchak a burnt offering

To knowingly give up your life runs contrary to the basic human instincts of survival. Yet, our history is filled with kedoshim, holy martyrs who accepted death rather than submit to a belief contrary to the Torah. Chassidus explains that they drew their strength from Avraham, who “opened the channels of self-sacrifice”, enabling his descendants to access the supernatural ability to part with one’s very existence for the sanctification of G-d’s name.

But throughout history, people of other faiths too have sacrificed their lives for their beliefs. What makes Avraham’s strain of self-sacrifice different?

The singularity of Avraham’s self-sacrifice, and consequently, his descendants’, comes to light in the Akeida.

The ultimate test of sacrifice is not to part with your life, but to part with your entire identity and existence. It’s possible for someone to feel that he’s better off dead than alive. For example, martyrdom can be driven by a belief of great rewards in the afterlife, or that life without living freely by your beliefs isn’t worth living. In either case, however, the motivation is the betterment of your state of existence.

The Akeida was different. Avraham had dedicated his life to the discovery and propagation of a belief in the One G-d, Creator of heaven and earth, contrary to all the pagan beliefs of his time.  Even when this faith had caused Avraham’s life to be threatened, one could argue that Avraham’s willingness to sacrifice his life was for the furtherance of this very belief, by showing the world the extent of his convictions. But to sacrifice Yitzchak, especially with no one around to know about it, would not further this belief but defeat it. It would extinguish any hope that the belief system that had been Avraham’s raison d’etre would be passed on to future generations. This was truly a sacrifice of everything for which Avraham felt that he existed.

The Akeida revealed that Avraham’s self-sacrifice was not driven by hopes of achievement or even spiritual gain, but solely by his unbreakable devotion to G-d’s every command.

—Likutei Sichos vol. 20, pp. 75-77

 

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