Bereishis: Old Abe Simpson

Like most yeshivos, my son had off on Friday afternoon.  For fun, they decided to go to the beach as a group.  Obviously not to swim, since it's too cold, but to get out and get some fresh air.  He told me that he actually saw fishermen using drones to hover over the water where they couldn't reach with their poles, and dip the bait in.  When the drones feel the tug of a fish, the drones lift up and carry the fish back to the fisherman!  To me, it takes out the "fun" of fishing, but as he pointed out, these people aren't fishing for fun, but rather to sell on the market.

Once again, technology changes how we do things.

When you see Christian art depicting "The Sacrifice of Issac," you often see an old man (Avraham) holding a knife in both hands, about to slaughter a tiny baby in a basket (Yitzchok).  However, even from the most simple reading of the Torah, you can see that Yitzchok was not a baby at the time.  And that's why you have some art depicting Yitzchok as a young man.  In fact, this is supported by the Torah itself, which uses the term "naar" to describe Yitzchok, which translates roughly as "young man."

However, we know that Yitzchok was not a young man at the time.  Rather, he was 37 years old! Which adds a little more drama to the story.

If Avraham was about to sacrifice a baby, okay ,,, the baby can't do anything about it.  If he was about to sacrifice a nine-year-old ... it's possible to trick or brainwash such a child into putting himself into a situation where somebody will slaughter him, because some mortal figure said so.  But somebody who's 37?  Yes, brainwashing is always possible, but at this age?  He's not at the age where he can't think for himself in any way.  If he's going to his death, he's going to his death, because he believes it.  And that shows you who Yitzchok was.

But that leaves us with a question.  Why is he called a "naar," a young man, at the age of 37?

Generally, when a person gets older, he tends to get more and more set in his ways.  It's difficult for him to learn to change.  I don't know why.  Well, I do ... but right now I'm picturing Grandpa Simpson yelling at a cloud (three points if you know what I'm talking about).

However, the Torah was teaching us that Yitzchok was no "old man" at the age of 37.  He was still a "young man" in terms of his willingness and ability to learn and grow.  He went, not because he was stuck in a certain mentality, but because he was able to understand and learn on his own what was expected of him, especially in such a strange and difficult situation that he was placed in.

I think the lesson from this is clear.  As we get older, it is only natural for us to "stick to our guns" on what we believe and know.  We become less likely to open our minds and to learn new things or new ways (obviously within the realm of Torah).  And it's important to remember that we need to always remain "young" in that regard, always be open to learning and changing our ways according to what Hashem demands of us during certain times and situations, rather than sticking only what we know and feel comfortable with.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!