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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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Binding Isaac - Instructions

When God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, He came to him directly. But when God later told Abraham NOT to do it, He sent the message via an angel.

What is the significance of this? Was this message less important, so that God needn't convey it himself?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Malbim, based on the Midrash Tanchuma Yashan, explains that when the angel came with the message, Abraham said he wanted to hear it directly from God Himself. At that point, God opened the heavens and said: "By myself I have sworn..." (Genesis 22:16) Likewise, the Midrash (Vayikra Raba 1:9) explains that the angel merely called Abraham's name to draw his attention to the communication about to be heard from God.

A different approach is taken by Rabbi S.R. Hirsch (19th century Germany), who says it is significant that God sent this message through an angel, whereas in all other instances God Himself spoke with Abraham.

Herein lies the whole depth of Abraham's struggle. If an angel had told him to sacrifice his son, Abraham might not have believed a messenger, because such a command was in utter contrast to everything God had told Abraham about kindness being the basis of Judaism!

However, in order to refrain from sacrificing his son, it was enough to send an angel. No extraordinary revelation was needed, because this fit in fully with everything Abraham knew about God.

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