Father and Son: Abraham and Isaac


And these are the chronicles of Isaac the son of Abraham; Abraham fathered Isaac
Genesis 25:19

Many of the Torah commentaries dwell on the repetitious phrasing of this verse: if the Torah identifies Isaac as “the son of Abraham,” what is added by informing us that “Abraham fathered Isaac”?

One of the Chassidic masters offered the following insight:

Often, we encounter what has come to be called the “generation gap”—parents and children in conflict with each other because they hold different world views and measure their lives against different value systems. At times, the enmity and disdain is reciprocal. In its less severe forms, it might be one-sided: the parents might be proud of their children’s achievements, while the children scorn the “primitiveness” and “backwardness” of their parents. Alternatively, the children might revere their parents and what they stand for, while their parents are deeply disappointed in their children and shamed by their behavior.

The Torah is telling us that, in the case of the first two generations of Jews, there was no “gap”: Isaac had no reservations about being “the son of Abraham,” while Abraham no less readily identified himself as the father of Isaac. Despite the fact that they embodied two very different approaches to life, 1 Isaac sensed that everything he is and has derives from Abraham, while Abraham saw in Isaac the fulfillment and realization of his deepest self.


Show 1 footnote

  1. In their analysis of the deeds and character of Abraham and Isaac, the teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidism define the first as the very embodiment of loving-kindness (chessed), and his son as the epitome of awe and self-discipline (gevurah)— see The Inside Story (VHH, 1997), pp. 42-47.

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