Avraham’s nisayon was even more impressive than you remember!

Parshas VaYeira contains one of the most challenging episodes in Jewish history: Akeidas Yitzchak. While even the thought of facing such a test would make any regular person tremble, Avraham was able to pass with flying colors. However, Avraham’s successful completion of his nisayon is only half of the story, just one element of his righteousness.

Undoubtedly, Avraham struggled internally with this command. In addition to the shocking cruelty involved in slaughtering one’s own son, Avraham was perplexed by how Hashem could instruct him to kill the child that G-d Himself had promised would later produce a fruitful nation (Rashi, B’reishis 22:13). And yet, not only was Avraham faithfully willing to fulfill this troubling mitzvah; he was even eager to do so. Indeed, Chazal derive the general concept of z’rizus, displaying alacrity for mitzvos, from Avraham’s early-morning rise to perform the akeidah (P’sachim 4a, see Tosafos ad loc.). Remarkably, Avraham was excited to follow the directive he found so morally troubling – because it was the word of Hashem.

The Brisker Rav zt”l pointed out yet another dimension of Avraham’s greatness embedded in this narrative. The fact that “Avraham awoke early in the morning” (B’reishis 22:3) not only highlights his readiness to carry out the task, but also implies that he was able to sleep the night before! It is one thing to be willing to sacrifice his precious son; it’s another to do so with z’rizus – and it’s another caliber entirely to feel so at-peace with his commitment to Hashem that he did not lose any sleep over the impending mitzvah. As unpleasant as the thought of losing his dear Yitzchak certainly was, Avraham prioritized his undying love for Hashem. This deep trust and tight bond with his Creator allowed Avraham to remain dedicated, and even well-rested.

Thankfully, Hashem has never challenged us with such a difficult nisayon. However, we can learn from Avraham to relish the opportunity to perform mitzvos, even when they seem demanding. For example, many aspects of a Torah lifestyle require a tremendous sacrifice of time and/or money. Others take a serious emotional toll on our wellbeing. By developing a genuine, personal connection with Hashem, we can become excited at the chance to engage in avodas Hashem – even when it is challenging – and certainly never view a mitzvah as a reason to lose any sleep!

Rabbi Yaakov Abramovitz is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and presides over its Young Marrieds Minyan, while also pursuing a PsyD 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.