Friday, 25 November 2016

Middas Hagevurah and Yitzchok Avinu

By Tryingtoshteig

by GYE Member (See all authors)

The Torah tells us in great detail about Avraham Avinu. Avraham excelled in Midas HaChessed. His life is covered in the parshiyos of Lech Lecha, Vayera, and Chayei Sarah. The Torah goes on and on about Avraham Avinu's Chesed with the malochim who came to visit him, with his regular guests, etc. Most of us here could probably give a long drasha about how we learn from Avraham about what chessed means, how to do chessed, how to give unconditionally, to give only for the best interests of your recipient, etc. etc. etc. We also see how Avraham was tested to go against his nature of giving, and to be prepared to schecht his beloved son Yitzchok by the Akeidah, and he passed the test with flying colors. We all learned all of this as little kids, and we have a pretty good understanding of this.
Similarly, Yaakov Avinu represents Midas HoEmes. The Torah spends more parshiyos discussing Yaakov's life than any of the other Avos. Part of Toldos, Vayeitzei, Vayishlach, Vayeishev, Miketz, Vayigash, and Vayechi all discuss, at least in part, Yaakov Avinu and his honesty. And we could all give a drasha about what honesty means and how important it is, etc. And the Torah tells us in great detail about how Yaakov's honesty was tested, in "stealing" the brachos, in dealing with Eisav, in dealing with Lavan, etc. etc. We all know this.
What about Yitzchok Avinu? The Torah tells us much less about him than his illustrious father Avraham and his incredible son Yaakov. It seems like he is sandwiched in just to connect the dots. What does the Torah tell us about him already? The end of Parshas Chayei Sarah and most of Parshas Toldos talk about his life. What do we learn about him there? That he dug some wells? That he was tricked into giving the brachos to Yaakov? Where do we see the beautiful lessons about his beutiful middos?

We know this can't be the whole story. We know that Yitzchok must have had his own special greatness to be included in the 3 Avos Hakedoshim. So, the question is, what was his middah, and what did he do?
We are told that Yitzchok's middah is Gevurah, which we generally translate as strength. Did Yitzchok beat anybody up? What is gevurah?
Avraham was a chiddush in the world. He brought the concept of Monotheism, belief in One G-d, to the world. That was a game-changer, in that time, and quite unpopular. So Avraham had to go out and teach and show the whole world, what it means to believe in G-d, what it means to be a Ba'al Chessed. He was a very public person, and he had to change the entire world's civilization.
After having such a father, you would think Yitzchok would also go out and be a teacher, and a kiruv rabbi, and a public figure. But he was very much the opposite. His job was to continue the avodah of his father Avraham and give it permanence. He dug the exact same wells that his father dug, and gave them the same names, so they should not be lost. But it did not have to be done with a whole song and dance. Just a quiet, private, avodah of NOT DOING. That is the middah of gevurah, NOT DOING. Restraint. Restraint takes a lot of inner strength. When you feel the need to get up and DO something but you know the right thing is to sit tight and do nothing and say nothing, that is restraint. That is gevurah. When Yitzchok knew that Yosef was not killed but rather sold to Mitzrayim but he could not tell Yaakov for years, he was quietly exercising the midah of gevurah.
Eizehu Gibboir? Hakoivesh es Yitzroi. The middah of being koveish our Yeitzer Harah is achieved through restraint, NOT DOING that which we have the urge to do. It takes a lot of strength to exercise restraint, as we all know.
Hashem is also a Gibboir. We see this in pesukim and we mention it in davening. What is Hashem's way of using restraint? One answer could be that He chooses not to send down a bolt of lightning every time someone flicks a light switch on Shabbos or looks at porn. He also chooses not to issue a halo and make the room light up every time we sit down and learn Torah.
We have a mitzvah of v’holachto b’drochov, of imitating the middos of Hashem. What can we do (or NOT DO) to be giboirei koach, oisei dvoroi?