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Toldot

"My son... I have grown old, I do not know the day of my death. Now please... go out into the field and hunt me some game and make me a delicacy, such as I love" Genesis 27: 2-4

    Isaac is the most enigmatic of the forefathers. His life is relatively unremarkable save for one extraordinary occurrence: he was bound by his father and placed upon an altar to be sacrificed.

    He expected his life to end there but it didn't; he was spared and, as one might expect, his perspective on life had completely changed.

    Isaac's life continues quite normally He never leaves Canaan, he marries, has children and has a bit of a business dispute over some real estate. He does not have a life full of adventures like his father Abraham or son Jacob.

    But it is precisely his ordinary life that speaks most deeply to us. Almost dying taught Isaac that life is not a given. He recognised that when we are born, we are presented with no guarantees. We are not promised longevity nor assured of life's quality. We are simply given life, be it long or short, and left to make of it what we will.

    Keenly aware that every day was a gift, therefore, he focused deeply on his regular activities and close relationships. His relationships and simple human activities assumed particular importance in a way we do not see with Abraham.

    When Isaac must consider which of his children will take the mantle of leadership, he does not seek to do so with ceremony or fanfare but over an intimate meal requested and enjoyed with love.

    The challenge of focusing on the intricacies of human routine is a significant one to those who are drawn towards achieving greatness - the phone calls, emails and simple greetings all stand before many of us as obstacles. But Isaac understood that, while these small moments may not be glamorous, they make up the fabric of our lives.

    The rabbis tell us it will be the merit of Isaac that will stand for us at the time of our final redemption (Talmud Shabbat, 89b). The dedication to love, human grace and connection to God through everyday interactions and relationships are the attributes of our middle forefather.

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