'Aqedath Yishaq

(The sacrifice [lit. binding] of our father Isaac).

At the age of one hundred years and ninety years respectively, after numerous years of waiting, when all thought it could not be done, Abraham Abinu and Sarah Immenu were blessed with a son Isaac (Yishaq Abinu).

Then one day, G d called out to Abraham: "Abraham", and he replied: "Here am I". And G d said: "Take now your...only son ...Isaac, whom you love and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there for a burnt-offering, on one of the mountains that I will tell you of."

Abraham did not know how to approach Sarah, as he knew that her soul was bound up with that of her son's. He told her that their son was now grown but had not had the opportunity to learn how to serve G-d. He would take him to the Midrash of Shem and 'Eber where he would learn the ways of the L-rd.

All that night Sarah held her son tight and instructed Abraham to take good care of him for she had no other son. In the morning, all cried hard and long as Abraham took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son and they set off on their way.

On the way, Satan came to Abraham in the guise of an old man of lowly spirit. "Have you lost your mind," he said to Abraham, "that you are going to slaughter your only child, whom G-d gave you late in life? Surely you realize", he added, "that this is not G-d's beckoning. The Al-mighty would never command you to do such a thing as take your son's life!"

Abraham paid him no heed for he realized that this was Satan and scolded him and chased him away. But Satan returned.

This time he came in the guise of a very good-looking young man and approached Yishaq. "Did you know", he said to him, "that your old father has lost his mind and is going to slaughter you today for naught?"

"Ignore him," Abraham Abinu said to his son Yishaq, "for he is Satan and has come to turn us away from the Miswah (commandment) that G-d has instructed us to perform". And they continued on their way.

On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. He saw a pillar of fire from the ground to the Heavens and a heavy cloud in which he saw the Glory of G- d. He asked Yishaq if he too could see the mountain, to which Yishaq replied that he could also see a pillar of fire and the Glory of G-d in a cloud.

However, the two young men he took with him (Yishma'el and Eli'ezer) could only see the mountain. From this Abraham deduced that they were not to accompany him. So he put the wood for the sacrifice on his son Yishaq, took the fire and knife in his hand and he and his son continued on alone.

When they reached the place, Abraham built the altar and laid the wood upon it. Yishaq, knowing he was to be the sacrifice, helped his father to prepare it. Abraham then bound his son to place him upon the altar.

Yishaq requested his father to take the remaining ashes and give them to his mother Sarah, "But please do not tell her of this while she is near a well or a high place", he added, "lest she throw herself off because of me, and die".

Upon hearing this Abraham cried exceedingly, as did his son, till Yishaq requested him not to delay what the Al-mighty had commanded him to do. With that Abraham placed him upon the altar and stretched forth his hand to slay his son.

And the angel of the L-rd called to him from Heaven and said: "Abraham, Abraham," and he replied: "Here am I." And he said: "Lay not thy hand upon the lad... for now I know that thou art a G-d fearing man, seeing that thou hast not withheld... thine only son from me." Then Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked and behold... a ram was caught in the thicket by his horns and he offered it as a burnt-offering instead of his son.

In the meantime, Satan, in the guise of a very humble old man visited Sarah. "Do you know", he said to Sarah, "what Abraham did to Isaac your son? He built an altar and sacrificed him on it mercilessly while Isaac was crying and screaming."

Upon hearing this Sarah cried an exceedingly loud and bitter cry. She then went with her servants to Hebron to ask if anyone had seen her son, but she received no reply. Then Satan returned, in the guise of a man, and said: "I lied to you, for Abraham did not slaughter Isaac and he is not dead."

When Sarah heard this her joy was so great that her soul left her and she died and was gathered unto her people.

Abraham and Isaac met up with the two lads whom they left on the way and all returned home. They asked of the whereabouts of Sarah and they were told that she went to look for them because of the thing that was told to her.

So they went to Hebron in search of her and Found that she was dead. And Abraham, Isaac and all their servants raised their voices and cried a long loud cry and mourned over her a very great mourning.

© Copyright Midrash BEN ISH HAI. 

Return to Rosh Hashana

Return to Yom Kippur Page

HomeReturn to Halakha & Customs

Click here to contact Midrash BEN ISH HAI.

© Copyright Midrash BEN ISH HAI. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.