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Actual Ashes

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 10/11/2019

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Actual Ashes

We are told , the ashes of Yitzchak appear before Me, gathered up, and placed on the Mizbeach.[1] If Yitzchak wasnt Shechted, then what are these ashes of Yitzchak?[2]  


The Sefer [3] brings the Sefer Akeidas Yitzchak[4] that since Avraham thought to slaughter and burn Yitzchak with a full heart and such desire, it is as if that was done.[5]


The Sefer [6] gives us another answer. Here are his incredible words: What are the ashes of Yitzchak if he wasnt Shechted and burned? He brings from the Kadmonim who ask on that which we daven , remember Akeidas Yitzchak, that there were millions of Akeidas that occurred throughout exile, Jews that were burned ', sanctifying Hashems name? At Akeidas Yitzchak, Yitzchak wasnt killed whereas throughout exile we have had many cases of Jews being killed. So why is Akeidas Yitzchak what we mention in our Tefilos? When we mention Akeidas Yitzchak in davening it refers to all Akeidas that happened throughout our history, on all the Jews that gave up their lives sanctifying Hashems name.[7] It is classified under Akeidas Yitzchak because it is from him that these people had the power and the will to give up their lives for the honor of Hashem.[8] This explains why it says the ashes of the Jews killed and burned for the sanctification of Hashems name!

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R Mordechai Friedlander Ztzl for close to five years. He received Semicha from R Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Vayikra 26:42, Rashi. See Rashi to Breishis 22:14, Brachos 62b, Zevachim 62a and Taanis 16a, Tosafos, s.v.

[2] A simple way to understand this is that it refers to the ashes of the ram which was offered as a substitute for Yitzchak (See Breishis 22:13)Maharsha to Brachos 62b, s.v. . See the Redal to Pirkei Drebi Eliezer 31:59.

[3] Vayera s.v. " ".

[4] See also Maharsha to Brachos 62b, s.v. . This was authored by R Yitzchak Ben Moshe Arama who lived from 1420-1494. The Sefer Akeidas Yitzchak is a lengthy philosophical commentary on Chumash, homiletic in style. It is because of this work that he is frequently called the "Ba'al Akeida" (author of the Akeida). One of the other Sefarim he authored was Yad Avshalom (The Hand of Avshalom), a commentary on Mishlei, written in memory of his son-in-law, Avshalom, who died shortly after his marriage. The Ba'al Akeida headed a yeshiva in Zamora, and then served as rabbi for the communities of Tarragona and Fraga in Aragon. In order to counteract the effects of conversionist sermons to which the Jews of Aragon were compelled to listen, he delivered sermons (Drashos) on the principles of Judaism. These sermons became the basis of his later works and contain interesting data on the history of the Jews in Spain prior to their expulsion. He later became rabbi of Calatayud, where he was able to found a yeshiva, revise his Drashos for publication, and author other works. He also engaged in several public disputations with Christian scholars.

[5] After Avraham bound Yitzchak, a Malach said to Avraham dont stretch out your hand against the boy nor do anything to him, since you have not withheld your son, your only one, , from me (Breishis 22:11-12). Who is the Malach to say as it should say from Hashem? We know that a Malach is created from each Mitzva one performs. Depending on how the Mitzva is done is the level of the power of the Malach. For example, if one gives Tzedaka to receive honor, the Malach created from that may be somewhat deformed. The Malach created from the Mitzva of the Akeida was the Malach that was talking to Avraham now. Avrahams intention was so great that he created a Malach as big and sturdy as a Malach can be. Consequently, he said , as he was complete without any deformity. So the Malach was saying you created me as strong as I can be so you didnt withhold anything from me, you dont need to do anything more.  

[6] Volume 1, " ", p. 93. This was authored by Rabbi Yaakov Friedman of Husiatyn, who lived from 1878-1957. His father was the Bohusher Rebbe, who was the oldest grandson of R Yisrael of Ruzhin (1797-1851). After marrying his second cousin, also a scion of the Ruzhin dynasty, R Yaakov moved to the home of his father-in-law, R Yisrael (1858-1949), in the eastern Galician town of Husiatyn. In 1937, he moved to Eretz Yisrael.

[7] After the Malach told Avraham not to do anything to Yitzchak, it says Avraham saw a ram afterwards caught in the thicket by its horns (Breishis 22:13). A deeper explanation given is that means that there will be others () like this in future generationsthere will be Jews who will give up their lives in difficult times.

[8] See the Meshech Chochma Vayera 22:14. This can be compared to drawing water from a well as this can only be done if the well is already dug. The same applies here as Yitzchak dug this well with the Akeida. We can now draw from that and be Moser Nefesh ourselves.

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