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Thought for the Day: The Akeida As the Turning Point

I once asked R' Henoch Liebowitz, z"tzl, what is the next pirush on Chumash to learn after Rashi.  R' Henoch told me to learn the Sporno (yes, that is how the Rosh Yeshiva pronounced that name), as the Sporno also gave pshat, but a little different.  I believe he meant that the Sporno tells us more about why something is happening rather than simply what is happening.  That means that sometimes I actually take a look at the Sporno.

At the climax of the Akeida when the malach HaShem calls out for Avraham to stop, the malach then continues (22:12), "Now I know that you revere G-d and have not withheld your unique son from me."  I noticed for the the first time this year that the malach doesn't seem to be quoting HaShem (as the next malach explicitly does in pasuk 22:16).  The Sporno addresses the question and reads the pasuk a bit differently: "Now I, the malach, know that you revere HaShem more than I do and it is entirely appropriate that G-d elevated you above the malachim, since you have demonstrated reverence for HaShem in action, and not just in thought."

Feeling the excitement of finding a rishon who asks and answers my question, I looked back at the beginning of the Akeida.  On the words "G-d tested Avraham" (22:1), the Sporno says the intent of the test was to bring out from thought into action the love and reverence that Avraham had for HaShem.  Moreover, he adds, the purpose of the existence of man is to be become as much like the Creator as possible.  It comes out, then, that the Akeida was much more than simply "the 10th test of Avraham".  The Akeida is really a turning point in human development from Avraham being simply the height of creation to actually being the sole justification for creation; and the entire creation acknowledges that fact.  That's pretty cool.

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