Father and sons pray Western Wall

We must all live our lives in a way that will make our children look up to us and want to emulate our ways. 

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is Chayei Sara (Genesis 23:1-25:18), and in it we read about the death and burial of both Abraham and Sarah. The end of an era. Let us use the opportunity to analyze the life of Abraham.

It is noted that Abraham had many conversations in his life. The Torah records lengthy conversation between Abraham and Sarah, Abraham and the three angels, Abraham and different kings, and others. However, when it comes to his son Isaac, there is only one conversation recorded in the Torah. One brief exchange totaling 15 words. That’s it. Father to son. One patriarch to another. Fifteen words.

What kind of father was Abraham? Why did he not speak with his son more? And more important, how is it that Isaac became the great Jew and leader that he was seemingly without any fatherly instruction or guidance?

Well, to answer the last question first, we do know that Isaac was a “success.” He was equally pious and devoted to God. Isaac realized that his father was taking him to Jerusalem to -ostensibly – be sacrifice don the altar. Nevertheless, knowing that it was God’s will, Isaac proceeded unabated and enthusiastically. Only a child well educated in the service of God could submit to such an ordeal.

It is explained that Abraham parented by example. Although Abraham could have spoken more with his son, the conversations would not have made Isaac into a better Jew than he already was. For example, Isaac saw how Abraham treated Sarah (he pitched her tent first upon arrival in the Land of Israel and called her “beautiful”), he saw and heard how hospitable his father was, he saw how his father tried to teach anyone and everyone about God, and he saw the type of diplomat his father was when dealing with kings.

Although we are all probably guilty to some extent of not spending enough time with our children, especially in terms of engaging them in conversation, verbal training isn’t everything. We see from Abraham that teaching by example is sometime even greater than teaching with a blackboard and textbook.

We must all live our lives in a way that will make our children look up to us and want to emulate our ways.

For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.