"And Yitzchak went forth to pray in the field... "
How wondrous are G-d's ways! Our sages teach us that the field in which Yitzchak prayed was none other than Mount Moriah, the site of his own binding. But how can it be that the once distant and foreboding mountain which Avraham saw from afar after a three day journey, can now be described as a field into which one can gently stroll, all the while preoccupied in prayer?
The physical topography of Mount Moriah of course did not change during the three years that transpired since G-d called on Avraham to take his son Yitzchak to the mountain that He will show him, and the day that Yitzchak returned to that spot. But the spiritual topography, the spiritual approach to the mount did change dramatically. For Avraham, the Divine call to go to the mount was his second "lech lecha," the second call for Avraham to "journey to himself," to go on a spiritual trek that would leave his world profoundly changed. The physical exertion, from the saddling of his donkey, to the three day journey at the end of which he "lifted up his eyes" and even then only "saw the place from afar," (ibid 22:4) reflected precisely the vast distance Avraham had to cover in his faith and understanding of G-d's ways, in order to reach the place of his greatest test.
Yet Yitzchak, who made that same perilous journey with his father Avraham, now accesses the mountain of Moriah with relative ease. And this only makes sense. After all, he was brought to the place for the first time by his father, in whom he placed complete trust. The great test of faith for Avraham was, for Yitzchak, a significant, but not earth-shattering moment in his childhood. Having been there before, having witnessed directly G-d's presence and direct intervention into his very life, Yitzchak now reenters the mount with peace in his heart. And this is surely G-d's intention: that this place in creation where the heavens meet the earth, where G-d's will and the will of His beloved people are one, where the ultimate call for faith is answered by the ultimate expression of faith, this is the very spot on earth where G-d most wants His children to approach in serene prayer and meditation. This is the spot where G-d wants trepidation to give way to peace.
Yitzchak spent his life strengthening and broadening and deepening his father Avraham's connection to the land of Israel, and in this manner saw to it that G-d's promise to Avraham would indeed become a reality. As a farmer, he sowed seeds, planted fields and dug wells, all in the soil of the promised land. The fertile, verdant, vibrant field is the symbol and grand metaphor for Yitzchak's unbreakable connection to the land and to G-d. Of course for him Mount Moriah was "the" field, the ultimate field, the ultimate place of his faith.
Ma'asei ha'avot siman lebanim - the deeds of the fathers are a sign to the children. Within one generation Mount Moriah, the site of the future Holy Temple, went from foreboding mountain to inviting field. Today, the children of Avraham and Yitzchak are again returning to the mountain of Moriah. To the "old timers," among us, who have been ascending the Mount for years, since its liberation in 1967, it has been a long arduous climb, one filled with many obstacles and difficulties. But for the younger generation of Temple Mount ascenders, who have followed in the footsteps of their elders, and who enjoy the benefit of ever increasing awareness and public yearning to return, the Mount Moriah experience bears much closer resemblance to that of Yitzchak. As in Yitzchak's day, the children are realizing G-d's promise to the fathers. May the day soon arrive, when prayer and Divine service will again fill the Mount with serenity and with peace.
Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK as Yitzchak Reuven and special guest host Yosef Adest, (filling in for Rabbi Chaim Richman who is currently on tour in the USA), discuss the irrepressible Avraham avinu, a man of faith constantly on the move. Whether he's greeting guests, talking to G-d, saddling up his donkey and making a three day trek to the land of Moriah, or skillfully conducting negotiations for the purchase of the Machpela field and cave, Avraham works tirelessly to carve out a path and a future for all his children in the generations to come. If we stick closely to his ways, a beautiful future is guaranteed!
This week's TEMPLE TALK is only one part.