Listening For the Footsteps

Kislev 1, 5783
November 25, 2022
Candlelighting Time 4:20 PM

            Yitzchok is faced with the challenge of a famine that is ravaging his region. Of course, taking note of his father’s reaction to the famine during his lifetime, he planned to go to Egypt, as Avrohom had done, to secure food for his family. However, Hashem had another plan in mind. He is barred from leaving due to his exalted position that he realized after mounting the altar as a sacrifice. Hashem appears to him beckoning him to remain in Canaan and guarantees him that he will indeed inherit the land, the future Land of Israel, and that the oath sworn to Avrohom applies to him as well. Furthermore, the world will be blessed  through him on account of Avrohom. The last passage ensuring ongoing blessing for Yitzchok and his children due to Avrohom is somewhat cryptical. Surely Yitzchok was sufficiently meritorious to garner favor in Hashem’s eyes and therefore certainly he would inherit the Land of Israel and the entire world would be supported due to him.

            Chasam Sofer presents two very powerful themes. Firstly, although Eisav was biologically the son of Yitzchok and grandson of Avrohom, however, in their genuine lineage, Eisav was disowned due to his repulsive conduct and is not considered as their offspring. Therefore, Hashem strengthens this concept stating that only the true descendants of Yitzchok will merit all the blessings that Yitzchok inherited from Avrohom that were bestowed upon him from Hashem. Therefore, the oath made to Avrohom will only apply to Yitzchok and his actual descendants, thereby excluding Eisav. And this is the reason why the Torah reiterates the oath that was made to Avrohom to clearly identify to whom that vow applies to.       

            Furthermore, the merit of Avrohom was so tremendous that even if his descendants sinned, they would still be entitled to enter into the Land of Israel. And, indeed, the horrendous Golden Calf fiasco certainly was an engraved blemish on their status. However, since we were allowed to enter into Israel, we enhanced our lives with the eventual building of the Beis Hamikdash. Therefore, our ongoing elevated relationship with Hashem was a result of our own ascension and surmounting of the challenges that we successfully achieved. And, another caveat, he adds that the real pledge was that we will merit the coming of Moshiach when the entire world will realize the greatness and majestic nature of our nation and desire to follow in our footsteps and emulate our ways. And all that is inclusive, connoted and envisioned in the oath to Avrohom.

            Netziv adds that the blessing of Avrohom was that due to his self-sacrifice in establishing the initial building blocks of the nation, he would have indescribable nachas, satisfaction and contentment, from his future generations that would be immersed in the study of Torah. And although he would no longer be living, from his repose on high he would certainly derive gratification from their adherence to their legacy. Additionally, due to their ongoing continuation of our heritage, Torah scholars would be shielded from the animosity and perhaps impending maltreatment from the nations of the world during the years of our exile amongst them. And this special protection that his descendants would enjoy was on account of his unbending passion to convey the veracity of this world’s meaning and mission to others.


The blessings that Yaakov received from Yitzchok were of such significance that they had to be received from Hashem. Therefore, Yitzchok had to be unaware of whom he was blessing that he was simply the conduit for Hashem to convey them to Yaakov.                                                     S’FAS EMES