Would you be disappointed if you didn’t have to do a mitzvah?

Avraham was.

After undergoing a painful circumcision at the age of 99, Parshas VaYeira begins with Avraham sitting expectantly by his front door. Rashi (18:1) writes that Avraham was on the lookout for guests, and was upset when he saw the empty streets. Therefore, Rashi continues, Hashem sent angels disguised as guests, in order to grant Avraham the chance for hospitality he craved so dearly.

Rav Moshe Feinstein highlighted an important point here. Consider that Avraham could not have been feeling guilty about neglecting the needy – after all, there were no people in need! Instead, Avraham was pained that he did not have the opportunity to perform an act of kindness for others. He was not satisfied with being relieved of his chance to do a mitzvah.

Later in the parshah, we find this trait to an extreme. As Avraham set off to perform Akeidas Yitzchak, the Torah details that he chopped and took along wood (22:3). Ramban explains that Avraham was worried about the possibility that there might not be wood onsite; this would delay or prevent his ability to complete the instructions of Hashem. Therefore, he made sure to bring firewood with him – just in case. Given the difficult nature of the Akeidah, we might have expected Avraham to feel a sense of relief at the thought of not needing to sacrifice his beloved son. Yet, he did not look for a way out. He would not even leave it up to chance. He actually went out of his way to guarantee that he would be able to carry out this mitzvah – even though it required a tremendous sacrifice.

We can learn from Avraham to treasure and eagerly anticipate mitzvah opportunities, to the extent that being exempt from a mitzvah would feel like a disappointment, instead of a relief!

Rabbi Yaakov Abramovitz is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, while also pursuing a Psy.D. in School and Clinical Child Psychology at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..