Parsha at a Glance

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At Lot’s Place

Avraham’s nephew, Lot, was still living in Sodom. Thanks to Uncle Avraham he had sure learned a thing or two about doing good deeds.
One day, as Lot was sitting by the gate of Sodom, he noticed 2 weary-looking travelers entering the city, so he decided to do a Mitzvah.
“Please, gentlemen. Come to my house for a meal. Stay the night and rest before you continue on your way,” Lot begged the strangers.
However, this was absolutely unheard of in the city of Sodom. Inviting guests was AGAINST THE LAW!

“Anyone Have Salt?”

The angels accepted Lot’s offer, and he led them secretly through the back alleys to his home so that no one would notice his “illegal actions”. At home, he pulled down the shades and then served them a meal, which included some Matzah (it was Passover).
As they ate, Lot said to his wife, “This food here is missing salt. Please bring some salt to the table for our dear guests.”
Lot’s wife was fuming that Lot had invited guests, so she came up with a vicious plan.
“Oh, I ran out of salt. I’ll go borrow some salt from the neighbors!” she volunteered, as she dashed out the door. She went from door to door, asking everyone, “Could I please borrow some salt for our HOUSEGUESTS? Can you hear me? I NEED some SALT for our HOUSEGUESTS!”

“OPEN THE DOOR, IN THE NAME OF THE LAW!”

Word spread quickly, and soon the entire city knew about Lot’s guests and they quickly took action! All the people of Sodom stampeded down the street until they arrived at Lot’s place and started to bang on the door. “OPEN THE DOOR, IN THE NAME OF THE LAW – THE LAW OF SODOM!” But no matter how hard they pounded, Lot would not let them in to harm his guests.
Shouting and screaming, the wild crowd began to force the door open, when the angels came to the rescue: With the power of HaShem they blinded all those wicked people – from young to old.
“Hey, where is the door of Lot’s house? I can’t find it.”
“Ouch! What a terrible fall!
“Help! My back is killing me!”

On the Run!

Just before sunrise, the angels informed Lot, “We were sent here to destroy the city of Sodom and HaShem instructed us to save you and your family. Come with us, NOW! No time to waste!”
Lot had four daughters, 2 of whom were married. Like any good father would do, he quickly ran to them with the news of the impending disaster. “Hurry,” he said to his sons-in-law, “Leave this cursed city of Sodom… NOW, before G-d completely demolishes it!”
“Stop babbling old man,” responded one son-in-law. “You worry too much! Nothing bad will happen to our beautiful city of Sodom.”
“Besides,” answered the other. “Even if we flee, we will never leave behind our fortune – our gold, silver, pearls and precious jewelry. It’ll take us all day just to gather all of them!”
“It’s your last chance,” Lot cried out. “LEAVE NOW! I’m not making this thing up! This is what G-d’s holy angels have told me! It’s serious business!”
“Serious? Angels?! G-d?!”
“Dad, it’s time for some good therapy!” they laughed and went back to sleep.
Lot rushed back home. Any moment the beautiful Sodom would be history. Believe it or not, Lot himself hesitated. “My money! All my valuables! I must not leave them behind!”
But the angels shouted, “Hurry! Hurry up if you want to live! There’s no time to waste!”
They led the penniless Lot, together with his wife and 2 daughters, out of Sodom. “Run! Run! DO NOT LOOK BACK, no matter what! Just be grateful that you are being saved. It’s only in the merit of your relative Avraham you are being rescued,” shouted the angel.
Lot ran towards the mountains. His other 2 daughters ran. Lot’s wife ran, too – but… she was curious and stopped to look behind her. She witnessed the entire city in flames. And suddenly she turned into… a pillar of salt!
And what happened to Lot and his 2 daughters? They fled to safety and ended up in a cave somewhere in a mountain. Safe at last!

It’s a Boy!

Exactly one year to the day that the 3 came to Avraham and Sarah, they were blessed with a son, just as the angels had promised. When the baby was born, Sarah was 90 years old and Avraham was 100! They named their son Yitzchak, meaning “he will laugh” – because his birth brought joy and laughter to all.
On the day of his birth blessings galore showered upon the world:
Many women, who for years did not have children, were blessed this day with children. “Congratulations!”
Many sick people were healed on that very day. “No more pain!” “No more hospitals, no more doctors, and best of all, no more bills!”
Indeed, HaShem answered many prayers on this special day, and there was much “Tz’chok” – joy and happiness in the world!
Yitzchak had a Bris Milah (circumcision) at 8 days old.
When he was 2 years old, the proud parents made a great celebration and invited many, many VIP guests – King Avimelech, Og the giant and more kings. The celebration was a testimony that HaShem kept His amazing promise to Avraham and Sarah. It was truly a great Kiddush HaShem (publicizing HaShem’s greatness).

An Incredible Test of Faith

Years later, when Yitzchak was 37 years old, HaShem called to Avraham:
“Avraham.”
“Here I am.”
“Please take your son.”
“But I have 2 sons,” answered Avraham.
“Your only one.”
“But each of them is the only son of their mother.”
“Whom you love,” HaShem replied.
“I love them both.”
“TAKE YITZCHAK!”
Go to the Land of Moriah and bring him up for a sacrifice on one of the mountains that I will show you.”
WHAT?! Sacrifice his one and only son, for whom he had prayed and waited so long, from whom HaShem had promised to make a great nation?! How could HaShem ask this from Avraham?!
Indeed it was a test – the most difficult test you could imagine, and Avraham was ready to do whatever HaShem asked of him.
Although he had no clue even as to which mountain he had to go, Avraham did not waste a moment. He woke up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. Out of his great love for HaShem, he personally did all the preparations for this holy task.
Avraham set out on his mission together with his sons, Yitzchak and Yishmael, as well as his trusted servant, Eliezer.
They traveled 3 days, until they saw a unique cloud on top of Mount Moriah. It was like no other cloud they had ever seen, glowing with holiness, and they knew they had found the right place.

The Binding of Yitzchak

When they got close to the mountain, Yishmael and Eliezer stayed behind while Avraham and Yitzchak climbed to the top. Yitzchak realized that they had everything they needed for a sacrifice – except the animal.
“What is going on?” Yitzchak asked his father. “I see the firewood and the knife, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”
Avraham replied, “HaShem himself will choose the sacrifice… if it won’t be a lamb… YOU WILL BE THE SACRIFICE.”
Yitzchak now realized what was about to happen. Instead of being sad, Yitzchak joyously climbed the mountain together with his father, ready to do whatever HaShem desired.
Yitzchak courageously asked his father to tie his hands and feet and place him on the altar, so he wouldn’t move. That’s why this episode is known as Akeidas Yitzchak –The Binding of Yitzchak.
Avraham built a Mizbei’ach (altar) and placed his son on it. He had the knife in his hand and was just about to sacrifice him, when HaShem’s angel called out, “Avraham! Avraham! Stop! Do not harm Yitzchak! You have passed the final, most difficult test!”
At that moment, Avraham saw from a distance a ram that was caught in a bush by its horns.
“HaShem wants me to sacrifice this ram instead of my son,” thought Avraham. So he immediately untied his son, and sacrificed the ram.
The mountain where Avraham brought Yitzchak was very special and holy. Many years later, in that very same place, the Beis HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, would be built! There, HaShem would accept all of Bnei Yisrael’s prayers and sacrifices.
On Rosh HaShana, when we blow the Shofar – the horn of a ram, it reminds HaShem of the ram that appeared on the scene of the Akeida, over 3000 years ago, and how our father Avraham passed his test with flying colors! For this reason every Rosh HaShana we read from the Torah the story of the Akeidas Yitzchak.

Tune in Next Time

After the Akeida, Avraham and Yitzchak returned happily home, but were in for a very sad piece of news when they got there.