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For The (Return) Ride

Written by Rabbi Daniel Leeman

When Avraham went to perform the binding of his son Yitzchak, he took along with him his other son Yishmael and his faithful servant Eliezer [1]. At a certain point though, when they were unable to recognise the Divine presence, Avraham told Yishmael and Eliezer to remain behind, and he continued on with Yitzchak alone [2].

But being that Yishmael and Eliezer lived together with Avraham for many, many years, he must have already been very well acquainted with them, and if so why did he bother to take them in the first place? [3]

A prospective author came to Rabbi Faibish Hodrofker with a manuscript that he had composed about the book of Koheles, and requested the Rabbi’s approbation.
The Rabbi glanced at the work, and refused to grant the request.
“But Rabbi,” pleaded the author, “I believe that my commentary on Koheles is of the same calibre as the Malbim’s commentary on the Book of Esther.”
“It is even better,” replied the Rabbi, “and yet I cannot recommend your work.”
“Why not?” inquired the author.
“The difference between you and Malbim,” explained the Rabbi, “is as follows: “our sages says that king Achashveirosh was a fool, and the Malbim, in his commentary on the book of Esther, makes Achashveirosh a wise man and a diplomat – and I can forgive the Malbim for that. But your book on Koheles makes out the author, King Shlomo, who was the wisest man on earth, to be a fool – and I could never forgive you for that.”

There is a very fine line between recognising the Divine presence and showing off one’s own presence! And the difference is unforgivable!

The question is: what is our destination? So long as we remain focussed on our destination, on our goal in life of connecting to and sanctifying the Divine presence then we are on the right path. But if we cease to strive towards this goal, writing our own manuscript – impressive as it might be, then we have nonetheless ceased to continue the path of our forefathers, and to put it mildly can simply not receive the desired approbation.

Have a fool-proof Shabbos,


Additional sources:
[1] Bereishis 22:3 and Rashi
[2] Rosh, Bereishis 22:5
[3] This question is asked, and answered differently, in ‘Galus Yishmael v’Geulas Yisroel’ / ‘In the footsteps of the Redemption’

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