ISAAC ON THE ALTAR

Reprinted with permission of the Holy Beggars’ Gazette Vol 2 No 3

Not for commercial redistribution without consent
from the Estate of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

House of Love and Prayer, San Francisco CA, 5734
Rabbeinu speaking:

ISAAC ON THE ALTAR

   The story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac is one of the deepest secrets in the
world. A lot of people give great lectures on it. If anybody thinks that he knows

what it is all about, then he definitely doesn’t know. So it is a privilege to know
that we know that we don’t know. Whatever it was, the great test was not that
G-d told Abraham to bring his own son as a sacrifice, because Abraham believed
in G-d enough to do it. If G-d wants to take Isaac away from Abraham He has
millions of ways. G-d is Master of the world, and He has other ways of getting
Isaac up there. This’was not the test, Abraham is so good, he is feeding the
whole world. G-d’s goodness has never had a greater representative in this world
than Abraham. To tell a man like that to slay his only son is the most cruel thing

in the world. Even that was not the whole test.

  What is Abraham’s mission in ife? Abraham’s mission is that the world
should know there is one G-d. What did Abraham need a son for? G-d always
needs at least one person, one nation in the world to let the world know
there is
one G-d. Here, when Abraham sacrifices his only son Isaac, he thinks it is the
end of the world. Abraham was a prophet, and he could see until the end of
generations. G-d told Abraham that he will have a son Yitzchak, and from him
will come one nation who will carry the great fire until the great day of Messiah
comes. The truth is, G-d showed him every Jew until the last generation, all the
holy people. He saw people going to gas chambers, he saw people being burned
in Spain, he saw everything until the end of generations. Now suddenly G-d says
to him to sacrifice his son Isaac, the source of all he had seen. His first reaction
should be, “You know G-d, something is wrong up there. Yesterday you
promised me that from my son will come the people who will make your Name
great, who will carry the great torch. Now suddenly you are telling me to
sacrifice my son? Are you sure there is no mistake up in Heaven?” Abraham
never even thought of that, he was so given to G-d. What did Abraham do? What
did he tell Isaac when he had to slaughter him?

    You have to realize one thing. Before the Great Day comes there will have to
be so much going on in the world, there have to be so many people ready to die
for G-d, until it will break down the walls of the world so that Messiah can
come. Can you imagine, if Isaac is slaughtered none of that will every happen.
How will the Great Day ever come about? So Abraham said to Isaac, “You and I
will have to do all the work to break down the walls of the world. When we go
up the mountain we have to put in so much heart and so much soul, enough to
make up for all the people who will not be born.” Abraham knew how many
Jews died for G-d, how many Jews suffered.

  Then God said to Abraham, “Don’t slaughter him. I only wanted you.” After
that it was so clear to Abraham that G-d never said to slaughter Isaac, G-d told
him, “Take your son Isaac and put him on the altar”, that’s all. God just wanted
him to be put on altar and to be ready to die. Now, after the whole thing is over,
if one little Yiddele walks into the gas chamber it is because Abraham already

did it there. We are just bringing it forth, but it is right here in the world already. All
the sacrificing, all the dying, all the pain in the world which anybody can ever
have Abraham and Isaac went through already. At least they wanted to, they
were with it.

    The Midrash says Abraham had ten tests. The first was when G-d said Lekh Lkah,
leave your father’s house, your parents, your nation, and go to the Holy Land.
The last test also says Go. Go up the mountain and sacrifice your only son. Is
there any comparison between the first test and the last test? It is very hard to

leave your country, to go to another country where you have never been. Does
that compare one billionth with G-d telling Abraham to sacrifice his son? You
can imagine the millions of spiritual miles Abraham went from the first test to
the last. The Bais Yaakov says that G-d looks into the heart. When G-d sees that
in the deepest depths of your heart you want to do G-d’s will, then everything
you do can be done with the same desire. The Midrash is saying that if I am real,
if I am really with it, if someone asks me for a glass of water I am putting the
same heart into giving it as I would put into dying for someone. The Midrash is
telling us that Abraham’s coming to the Holy Land was done with just as much
heart as sacrificing his son. It was complete. Everything was complete with him.
Everyone understands that if you stand on a mountain and you are ready to
sacrifice your son, there is not one bit of a cell left in your body and heart and

soul which is not ready to give up everything for G-d. How does G-d look at
people? G-d is looking at the smallest thing. Meaning to say, if I wash my hands
to eat bread it is a little thing, or it could be the greatest, most earth shaking
thing I do for G-d. You don’t have to wait until G-d says to bring your only
son. You can wash your hands. You can do the smallest thing in the world and
everything can be in it. You can kindle lights Friday night and be on the level of

Sarah when she heard that her son was ready to die for G-d.

    Sarah heard, exactly how we don’t know, but she heard that Abraham was
going up to sacrifice Isaac. She understood that Abraham would not kill him for
nothing, but G-d wanted him to. Sarah died exactly the very same moment that
Isaac was lying on the altar.

    You have to realize one thing. What would have happened to Avraham if he
had, G-d forbid, sacrificed Isaac? He would have fulfilled G-d’s will. He thought
G-d wants him to kill his son. What would he have done after that? Avraham
knew that the moment he kills his son he will also die. How could a holy man
like Avraham live after that? So Avraham was telling Isaac, “I’ll see you in
Heaven in a moment, because I"ll be there right away.” When Sarah heard that
Abraham was sacrificing their son she knew they would both be going to
Heaven, and she thought, “What am I doing alone here. I want to be there also.”
So she took off.

 

 


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