Sunday, October 25, 2015

Isaac's eulogy for his father

‎           In memory of PM Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Welber ‎
Parashat Vayera 5756 (11/11/95)‎
Abraham, my father!‎

I, Isaac, your son, your only one whom you loved stands before you today, crying and ‎confused. You, who were everything in my life, lie before me now, lifeless and cold.  All of ‎the neighbors and many regional leaders have come to pay their last respects. They have asked ‎me to eulogize you but I do not want to.  You know why, but if I were to explain the reason ‎for my refusal, the reason itself would no longer be valid.‎

First and foremost, you were the great man of faith.  Even in your youth in Ur Chasdim, you ‎developed a new faith.  No longer belief in the sun, the moon and stars but rather in one ‎Creator who made them all.  Most importantly, you believed in one single God, not many.  ‎Wherever you went you talked to people and taught them your new ideas. You continued ‎your teaching when you moved with the family to Haran.  Always impressing people and ‎influencing them until the command came to start a new life in an unknown country.  ‎

You and mother went to Canaan and started all over again from the beginning   explaining, ‎teaching and bringing people closer to God.  I, of course, do not remember this stage ‎personally but many of those gathered here today can testify to it. ‎

What I do remember is your overwhelming hospitality.  Our house was always open; the tent ‎was open to the four winds and travelers came to wash their feet, eat and drink.  They spent ‎the night and continued on their way.  Always, you took the time to sit with them.  Always ‎you told them that they must not thank you for the food but rather God who created it.  ‎Sometimes, we were concerned that there would not be enough supplies left to meet the ‎family's needs.  You would not pay any attention to our concern.  The guests were too ‎important for that.  You were indeed "blessed with everything" and never did we want.  Your ‎love for people, your need to meet them was so great that after God overturned Sodom and ‎Gomorrah and travelers no longer passed that way, there was no point for you to remain in ‎Alon Mamre, so you moved to Beer Sheva where you planted the famous Eshel.‎

I was born in Beer Sheva.  I grow up there in tranquility and plenty, playing with my brother ‎Ishmael, until one day you let Mother send him and his mother away.  I could not understand ‎this.  I dared not ask.  I was depressed and so very alone.  ‎

Until . . . ‎

One morning you woke me early in a hard, cold voice saying that we must go to some distant ‎place to pray.   Again, I did not understand.  You always taught us that God is everywhere.  ‎Why then must we go to a particular place to pray?  I couldn't find the words to ask.  Three ‎days we walked in icy silence.  You did not look at me.  I was frightened, scared that you ‎would leave me in the wilderness, like Ishmael, and that I would die of thirst.  Finally, I ‎found the words and asked a question.  As you answered, you wiped a tear from your eye, ‎but looked straight ahead.  I understood and was terrified.‎

The frightful moment came.  I saw the knife above my head.  My soul departed and flew to ‎heaven.  The angels were confused by its arrival since they knew that God had never planned ‎for you to carry out the command out to the end.  They knew that one of their number had ‎already been dispatched to stop you.  Quickly, they established the blessing "who brings the ‎dead to life" and returned my soul to my body.‎

I couldn't return home with you; couldn't walk three more days in that dreadful silence.  But ‎where to go?  I went to Ishmael, my brother.  Who else would understand what it is like to be ‎the son of Abraham?  I sat with Ishmael.  Slowly, I told him my story.  We sat and talked ‎until I understood that you could not have done otherwise.  Your faith was so strong that ‎even though you knew nothing of the planned end, you believed completely in the divine ‎promise that your decedents would be a great nation and that I was your link to the future.  ‎Without knowing how, you believed that everything would have to be okay. ‎

I still couldn't go home.  That faith was terrifying; your confidence that everything would ‎always be okay only undermined my confidence. ‎

I stayed with Ishmael.  We talked.  I thought and prayed until I saw that your great faith ‎could only exist on this earth together with your great love.  ‎

Now I was ready to return home.  To live in the land, establish a family and continue the ‎faith. Today, I hope and pray that I, and my brother Ishmael, will be able to educate future ‎generations the full truth of Abraham, our father, that all consuming faith can survive on this ‎earth only when accompanied by all consuming love. ‎

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