Rabbi Shlomo Sobol
Former Rosh Kollel in Detroit

 

Towards the end of our Parasha, the Torah describes the activities of Avraham Avinu during the final days of his life.
When a person knows that his life is coming to its end, he often will attempt to address the things, which have yet to be completed during his lifetime. For example, a father or mother might use the last days of their lives to instruct their children in ethical issues and practical behaviors relevant to their lives.

So, it is interesting to note the things Avraham Avinu found important in his final days. In Chapter 25 verses 7-8, the Torah describes the death of Avraham. In verses 5-6 the Torah details what Avrahm did before his death.

“And Avraham gave all that he had to Yitzchak. But to the sons of the concubines, which Avraham had, Avraham gave gifts, and sent them away from his son . . . “

The scholars of the Kabbala found deep and important secrets in these verses. We, too, will try to understand these verses with the help of the Rabbis:

Rashi explains that Avraham gave Yitzchak “all that he had”, i.e. the power to bless that Avraham received from Hashem. (See Rashi on Bereshit 12:2) On the other hand, Avraham gave to the sons of Hagar, “gifts” that he received from others. Avraham, because he did not work for these gifts saw them as less valuable, and therefore gave them to the sons of Hagar and not to Yitzchak.

The Holy Zohar explains that the fact that Avraham gave Yitzchak “all that he had” and only “gifts” to the sons of Hagar clarifies the difference between Am Yisrael and the Nations of the World.

Avraham gave Yitzchak “all that he had” – the spiritual world that distinguished him from all others. Avraham gave to Yitzchak and to the Jewish People of later generations his great belief in the Creator of the World and his closeness to Hashem. The Zohar teaches that when Avraham gave Yitzchak “all that he had” he gave him the superior wisdom that knew the holiest name of Hashem. The “gifts” that Avraham gave to the Nations of the World was material success. For these nations material success is the most basic and essential part of life. For Yitchak the material world is just a vessel into which he pours spiritual substance. This is the reason that Avraham sends the sons of Hagar away from Yitzchak. He desires to teach Yitzchak and Am Yisrael that material success is not a goal unto itself but rather only facilitates the comforts needed to devote oneself to spirituality and Torah. That is the goal.

This is the message that Avraham Avinu left us moments before his death.

Avraham Avinu experienced much during his lifetime. He fell into the Kivshan HaAish and was saved. He survived a long and arduous journey to Eretz Yisrael, and later traveled to Egypt during a period of famine. Avraham was saved from Avimelech, fought the Kings and eventually became wealthy and well respected. After all of these life forming experiences, and others, which are described in the Midrashim, Avraham is 120 years old and ready to give his son Yitzchak the one most important thing he achieved in his life. He gives him his great faith in Hashem.

Yehi Ratzon, that we will merit the same great faith in Hashem and the opportunity to pass this on to our children for all generations.