Isaac’s Quiet Heroism

We know less about Isaac than any of the other patriarchs. In the major events of his life, he is acted upon — being bound for the Akedah and having Jacob steal the birthright by fooling Isaac in old age.

But we are also told that he re-dug the wells of his father and never left the land of Israel. In other words, Isaac was the patriarch of consolidation, the one who ensured that the remarkable achievements of Abraham would not be lost. Jacob could wander, because he had, in the terms of modern psychology, a secure base.

Isaac is our model of unspectacular goodness. His name means “laughter.” He did not try to outdo his father or overshadow his son. He loved Rebecca and despite his inability to create harmony between his children, they both cherished him enough to set aside their quarrel and come together to bury him. Not every action of consequence is also an action of chaos or combustion. In an age of flash and noise, the quiet heroism of Isaac is an inspiration.


About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.
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