Isaac - Oleh Temima


Rabbi Reuven Mann - Written by a Student



What is the idea of Isaac not being able to leave Eretz Yisroel because he’s an “Oleh Temima”, an “unblemished sacrifice”?  


I discussed this with Rabbi Mann, who said that Isaac was a different type of personality. He was not an Avraham or Yaakov, who was to concentrate his life on interacting with the world. Isaac’s wife initiated dealings with Esav, (she suggested the goat skins to fool Isaac). Isaac’s father sought for him a wife. These are two examples of Isaac’s removal from world dealings. Remaining in Israel also represents that which would not befit him. “Oleh Temima” means something devoted exclusively and wholly to God. Unlike a sacrifice that is eaten, an “Oleh” is not. Flames wholly consume it. Isaac was wholly devoted to God.


I added, perhaps the story in Rashi, that the angels’ tears caused Isaac’s blindness, means that this act of his self-sacrifice perfected him so far (angels alluding to perfection) that he was removed from this world in some manner. One who is blind is removed from this physical life in a very primary way. The Torah says that one who is blind is considered as though he is dead. This means that he is removed from life to a great degree, i.e., removed from physical existence - a mark of perfection in Isaac’s case.


The event of the Akeida was a trial not only for Avraham, but for Isaac as well. He sacrificed his own life. This must have had a profound effect on him as the Midrash that Rashi brings implies. What was that effect? Perhaps living a life subsequent to near death at God’s word, elevates one’s attachment to God in an irrevocable manner. Isaac would always be that devoted. The Akeida was not an ‘event’ of sacrifice, but he now lived a permanent state of sacrifice. He didn’t do an isolated ‘act’ of Oleh Temima, but he remained in that state his entire life.


There is more to be developed on this point.




Reader’s Comments: I had an idea this Shabbos that Yitzchak’s staying in Israel, actually defined Israel.


Oleh Temima means that one is devoted completely to Hashem, i.e., that all of Yitzchak’s energy was directed to Hashem (a result of the Akeida experience). And chutz l’aretz (outside Israel) is not fitting for him. Israel is the land designated for the Jewish people. It is designated for the purpose of a society that is wholly devoted to Hashem.


At the time Yitzchak is there, though, the land is not defined that way (except insofar as its designation for the future). Yitzchak is told to stay in the land because (26:3) Hashem will be giving to him and his children this land. His staying there will establish it for the future. (After all, Hashem planned to give this same land to Avraham and his children, yet Avraham was not bound to stay in the land). Yitzchak’s staying in the land has a unique establishment (that even Avraham’s staying there would not establish). This is because of his nature as the Oleh Temima. All of his energy is devoted to Hashem. Staying in the land makes a statement about the nature of the land. It is appropriate that the one who best illustrates complete devotion to Hashem remain in the and that is designated for complete devotion to Hashem.