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The Binding of Isaac on Mount Moriah

"And He said, Please take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the Land of Moriah - bring him up there as an offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell you... on the third day, Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from afar." (Bereshit 22:2-4)

In the course of the generations, idolatry became popular. Then Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, arose and began to destroy the pagan idols, and to proclaim the name of the One G-d. He spread this ideal and gave it as an inheritance to the world.

Abraham brought an offering to this same altar on Mount Moriah, but the sacrifice that was required of him was different from all others - he was asked to submit his son as a burnt offering upon the altar. Abraham, the first believer, received this Divine decree with simple faith and brought his son Isaac to the altar he built. It is this episode in which Abraham revealed to the entire world the extent one is required to go in dedicating oneself to G-d's honor.

A heavenly angel appeared to Abraham and told him he was not to carry out this commandment. Abraham saw a ram caught in some thickets by its horns, and sacrificed it "in his son's stead" (Gen. 22:13). This incident serves as Abraham's introduction to the sacred service of the Temple for his descendents, the Jewish people. By his actions, he exemplified for the coming generations how one must feel in order to truly fulfill his obligation when bringing an offering: to sacrifice a sheep before G-d, one must feel that his son is bound on the altar - or as if it is he himself. These are the proper intentions and spiritual strengths needed when bringing an offering to the Temple; this is the service that G-d desires.

The binding of Isaac is the archetype for all sacred service in the Temple from thence forward: it must contain this perspective of self-sacrifice which befits a person who stands before G-d. In this light we can understand the reason for the Torah's strict insistence that the altar be built "in the place which G-d will choose..." - meaning, in the specific location where Abraham built his altar, on Mount Moriah.

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