This is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac
It is written (I Chronicles 28:9), “If you seek Him, He will be available to you,” Seeking refers to Abraham, being available/found refers to Isaac. Abraham’s essence was to be constantly yearning and burning for Torah, and that God’s sovereignty be proclaimed throughout the world. This is an attribute of love and expansiveness.
Isaac’s attribute is Gevurah – restraint. When the revelation of God in this world is made clear, it is referred to as Gevurah, as is taught (Talmud Megillah 31b), “Thus Moshe heard it from the mouth of Gevurah,” And Isaac was also known as God’s Gevurah in this world.
And this is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham…The story of Isaac is to proclaim God’s having been revealed in the world. Abraham begot Isaac means that it is Abraham who gives birth to this revelation of God via his burning passion, for passion is an attribute of Abraham.
All authentic torah can only be brought to the life after experiencing the great desire that draws a person to it. This is also expressed in the Talmud (Bava Metzia 44a), “In his youth, Rabi taught his son Rabbi Shimon – Silver acquires Gold, and in his old age taught – Gold acquires Silver.”
In youth, there is an incredible passion and desire for Torah, and through this Silver acquires Gold, which is Torah, and the truth-seekers call [Torah] Gold, and Silver is the desire and yearning. But in one’s later years, one needs to pray that the desire for learning isn’t extinguished, for in one’s old age all sense of desire is dimmed. Therefore Rabi reversed the formulation, and Gold acquires Silver. This is his prayer to God that through [the learning/living of] Torah, the desire will arise in his heart to contribute new understanding of Torah.
Imagine a person who is satiated from eating. Nevertheless, If good food is placed before her, it sparks the very desire to eat more. And so it is with Torah. And this is what we pray everyday (Blessings over the Torah), “Please, Lord our God, make the words of your Torah sweet in our mouth and in the mouths of Your people.” That God should sweeten our Torah, that at every moment our desire for more torah is without end. This is what is meant by (Joel 2:26), “And you shall eat, and eat, and be satisfied,” The repetitive language hints at this idea, that by eating, one’s appetite increases. So too is it with Torah.
Abraham represents the unbridled passion to reveal the divine in everything down here. Isaac is able to just sit in that knowledge and awareness of God being totally manifest in this world. And both are great. In fact, you can’t have one without the other. Abraham begot Isaac – All of Abraham’s crazy journeys here and there for the sake of revealing the Oneness are finally realized in Isaac. He is the fruit of that labor. Isaac just gets IT. Everything he does and says is an expression of that truth.
And that’s authentic Torah. It’s what Torah is and could be when done right. The revelation of God in everything, proclaimed to all (it’s also an act of love, so let’s not be too harsh with that proclamation). It is the kind of Torah that Abraham and Isaac could learn and live before the giving of the written Torah. It is a more expansive kind of Torah. Even though it is so magnificent, sometimes we are just content to be with the little bits of divinity we already know. The Torah we have already learned. Sometimes you’re more Abraham, and sometimes you’re more Isaac. And that’s OK. It was meant to be.
Every morning we get to start all over again. We pray the Torah should be so sweet that even when we have it, we are yearning for more. We pray to be like Abraham and Isaac at once. To have true Torah, to know the divine in all our ways, like Isaac who just lived it. But also to be like Abraham. To say “Maybe there are new places I haven’t even looked yet in myself and in the world where God is to be found.”