Din and Yira
הרב דוד זץ
We are introduced to Avraham Avinu in last week’s parsha without much of a biographical sketch and background that would provide context as to why Hashem chose Avraham as the first of the Avot. The assumption that we are left with must be that Avraham represented qualities amongst mankind that distinguished him above all others. The Rambam describes the early years of Avraham’s life to be one where through various circumstances he discovered Hashem. The relationship between Hashem and Avraham Avinu would continue to flourish as Avraham risked his life for his beliefs with the story of the furnace and Nimrod. With this beginning we are left with a tremendous difficulty as to why the posuk says at the end of the akeida that only now Hashem knows that Avraham fears Him. “עתה ידעתי כי ירא אלוקים אתה.” Only now this is apparent? What happened now and what was so significant about the akeida that would enable such a specific accomplishment?
Hashem interacts with this world in two ways, מדת הדין and מדת הרחמים; mercy and judgement. We are accustomed to appreciate the world when מדת הרחמים prevails. The Midrash says when Noach came out of the ark, he looked up to Hashem and asked him how He could have destroyed the world. Noach, himself, decided to plant a vineyard to lighten his spirits as the posuk in Tehillim says, “יין ישמח לבב אנוש”. But why was Noach surprised? Was he not warned about the flood? Was that not the reason why Noach was building the ark in the first place? The Zohar explains along these lines that when Noach asked Hashem how it could be that He would destroy the world, Hashem responded to Noach saying that Noach was a “רעיא שטיא”, a foolish shepherd. Hashem had called upon Noach to lead and impact his generation but instead Noach thought that nothing would happen in the end. He didn’t take the opportunity to impact others as he deemed it unnecessary. This would also explain why the verse by Noach says that he and his family went into the ark “מפני מי המבול” and Rashi explains that Noach was “מקטני אמנה”, lacking in faith. Noach never believed that the flood would really happen because he lived with the perspective that Hashem runs the world with מדת הרחמים.
Avraham Avinu was different. Rav Pinkus zt”l explains that in contrast to Noach, Avraham believed that Hashem was capable and willing to not only utilize מדת הרחמים but also מדת הדין. As difficult as it may be to understand and appreciate Hashem’s actions when using דין, it remains a possibility. This appreciation was solidified at the akeida when Avraham raised the knife to slaughter Yitzchak. At this time, Avraham had the opportunity to demonstrate a level of devotion that up until now was never appreciated.
קוד השיעור: 9213