Parshas Toldos-Torah Or-Selected Teachings: 1) The attribute of Yitzchak in contrast to that of Avraham Avin; 2) Loving the opposite nature; 3) How can one be commanded to love God?

Parshas Toldos-Torah Or Selected Teachings


Mamar “Eileh Toldos Yitzchak”

1. The attribute of Yitzchak in contrast to that of Avraham Avinu:

Avraham Avinu comes from the right side, which is described in scripture as “And the right side embraces me.” This is in contrast to Yitzchak Avinu, who derives from the left side, which is described in scripture as “His left side is under my head.” The main service of Avraham Avinu was the act of kindness of hosting guests and the like, while the main service of Yitzchak Avinu was the digging of wells.

The purpose of Avraham’s hospitality was to spread G-dliness: The fact that Avraham was so hospitable was not simply because he enjoyed being a nice guy, and feeding travelers, but rather was an essential tactic of how to fulfill his life mission of spreading G-dliness to the world and its inhabitants. He gave the idol worshiping Arabs a meal to eat in order so they will recognize the greatness of G-d and acknowledge his existence. Thus, the function of Avraham was to draw down G-dliness from above to below. This is in complete contrast to the function of his son Yitzchak which was on the opposite scale to draw from below to above, to dig wells and reveal water from below the earth to then be brought above the earth. Now, although also Avraham was involved in well digging, eventually they became stuffed up. However, the wells of Yitzchak remained permanently.

Which forefather represents the main aspect of the future? Of the future era, it states in Scripture in reference to Yitzchak “as you are our father.” The reason for this is because the laughter and joy of the future will be from the aspect of service represented by Yitzchak, which represents elevating the below to above. This will be the main source of pleasure and entertainment in the future era, as opposed to the service of Avraham which while being in important function, is not as great of a novelty as that of the service of Yitzchak, and therefore will not serve as the main source of the future entertainment.

The Explanation: [The above words may seem quite cryptic to the reader. What is the difference between service of above to below, versus below to above, and that the service of below to above is a greater novelty and is the source of pleasure in the future? What does this all mean? So, the explanation is as follows: The service from above to below represents the drawing down of G-dliness below. There is no great novelty in this accomplishment being that, that is the order that everything was created, as in order to bring about creation G-d revealed His light from above to below. A greater novelty is specifically found in the service of Yitzchak bringing below to above. Meaning, that instead of forcing G-dliness upon the lower being, one rather refines the lower being to the point that he himself desires to be elevated to the G-dliness. In other words, the service of digging wells is symbolic of the idea that Yitzchak was involved in bringing the hidden goodness and holiness within a person into his conscious and revealed state. It is the person’s own goodness and holiness that he desired to reveal, and not simply bring to him an external revelation of G-dliness from above, as was the function of his father Abraham. This is the service which will serve as a source of pleasure in the future era being that there is no greater pleasure for G-d, and in turn for man, than to take a thick and coarse existence and refine it into a jewel.]

The level of Yitzchak is fear and trepidation and nullification to G-d: On a deeper level, the service of Avrham Avinu represents a feeling of pleasure of love for G-d, while the service of Yitzchak Avinu represents fear and trepidation of G-d. Superficially, it would seem that the service of Avraham is much greater and higher than that of Yitzchak. However, in truth, Yitzchak represents a very high level of fear and nullification to G-d which can only be revealed in the future era. On this it states in Scripture “we will enter into the caves in the rocks due to fear of G-d that will be revealed.” [It is this high form nullification that is then transformed into the greatest pleasures, much higher than that of Avraham.] Even Avraham, his father, could not attain this level of his son Yitzchak, and it is for this reason that he performed the Akeida, to try to reach this level. Yaakov Avinu, however, was the completion of both his father and grandfather, as he contained both of their aspects, the aspect of love of Avraham, and the aspect of fear and nullification of Yitzchak.


A parable:

There are two type of jewelry stores. One who sells real jewelry which requires them to dig up real gems clean them and process them to turn them into beautiful and sellable merchandise. Another type of store, one who sells imitation jewelry coated with silver, making it look almost similar to the real stuff, but in truth is made of non-valuable cheap material on its inside. While the onlooker can argue that there is no difference between the two, everyone understands and feels the difference between these two types of ornaments. The same applies above regarding the difference between the service of Avraham and Yitzchak. The service of Avraham is to draw down G-dliness from above to below, and so to say to coat everything with a silver lining even if it is truly rotten to the core. So too, Avraham influenced the idol worshiping Arabs to say a blessing and recognize G-d even though no real change occurred in them as a result. The changes that Avraham affected in the people of his generation was more external. Yitzchak on the other hand had affected an internal change, turning around the individual from being a rotten person to becoming a gem, in contrast to simply coating his coarse and dirty self with gems. [Another parable can be explained as follows: Two homeless men who stunk to the highest of heavens were found by two kind and caring men, each in their own city. One kind man took out his perfume and deodorant bottle and offered to spray the smelly homeless man with it to make him smell good. The second kind man offered the smelly homeless man to come to his home to bathe and scrub off of him all of his dirt. It is obvious that the service of the second kind man is more productive in effecting a change in him than the service of the first kind man. The first kind man represents the service of Avraham, while the second kind man represents the service of Yitzchak.] The purpose of creation is not just for an individual to be involved in G-dly matters but for those G-dly matters to change his essence and shine the jewel that is within him. It is specifically this latter form of Divine service that G-d enjoys the most, as to draw G-dliness down to low areas is what He does all day, however to take the low area and shine it and elevate it above is a true novelty and is what gives G-d the most pleasure, and consequently will be the source of our main pleasure in the future.

2. Loving the opposite nature:[1]

It is known that the nature of man is to love and desire those things which are opposite of him. Such as, for example, one who is hot and sweaty desires cold water while one who is very cold desires hot water. It is for this reason, that Avraham loved his son Yitzchak, as his son Yitzchak represented the exact opposite Divine service than him, as explained above. [The above statement is quite wondrous as most people would believe that a person likes and desires those who are similar to him. Psychologically, we can explain the above phenomenon as follows: A person naturally desires that which he does not have. One who does not own a watch or a car and understands that he needs it, is more prone to desire it than someone who already owns it. Likewise, one who is not yet married but desires to be, is more prone to consciously desire marriage than one who is already married. The point is, that we naturally cease to consciously feel the value of things that we already have, and thereby as a result naturally desire things of the opposite nature which we do not contain. Thus, there is a natural attraction of a man to a woman and a woman to a man, as they are opposite nature. Likewise, a person who is very serious in nature may enjoy being around friends who are lightheaded and comical, as each person desires the opposite. Likewise, a person who ate a meal of typical meal foods which are not sweet, may desire to eat sweets afterwards for dessert. While a person who ate lots of sweets may desire to eat something on the saltier side, or at least something that is not sweet.]

3. How can one be commanded to love G-d if emotions are beyond our control?

The Alter Rebbe states: “The verse states “and you shall love,” which is a matter that is seemingly beyond the ability to command on, to command one to love. However, the explanation is that the previous verse states that G-d is one, and through this contemplation…. one comes to these emotions”

The explanation: We read thrice daily how G-d commanded us to love him. How can one be commanded to love someone? Isn’t love a truth of the heart that either you have or don’t. Isn’t love an emotion and signal from your heart to you and not from you to your heart? The answer to this question is that in truth we have been educated with a false axiom, that you cannot grow love and it is a fact of your heart and subconscious that you have no control over. In truth, the heart is a limb like any other limb of your body, and the same way that you can decide when to talk and what to talk about, so too you can decide what to feel and how. The only difference is, the amount of effort it takes to take control of this limb. While the mouth is a more easily controllable limb, similar to a tool that you decide how and when to use, the heart is more like a pet or child which has its own nature and needs to be disciplined to follow the desire of his master and father. So, the heart which is not born with a natural love and lust for G-d, can be trained to develop it. How is this done? Through deep contemplation on matters that arouse love for Him, each in accordance to those matters that are of importance to one’s heart, and as elaborated in length in the Sefer Tanya chapters 41 and onwards.


[1] Torah Or Toldos p. 17c; Likkutei Torah Reih 28a

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