“If you had to condense the message of Judaism into one word, what would word would you pick?”
This was the question I posed my dear mentor, world-scholar Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, just a few years ago. I thought he would say something simple, like “Torah” or “mitzvah” or “kindness” or even “love.”
But his brilliant answer astounded me: “consistency,” he replied without a hiccup of hesitation.
In this week’s portion, Isaac takes the center stage. Unlike his father, Abraham, Isaac did not lead any revolutions. Quite the opposite; he was a man of few words who was defined by his silence more than his speech. And unlike his father, who traveled the world to preach monotheism to humanity, Isaac never left the Holy Land. He stayed put, focused inward and dug wells.
As Abraham and Isaac’s descendants, we too inherited both personalities. We are called to bring out our inner Abraham and bring the word of God to every human being. We must ignite every soul we meet with kindness, spark every mind we encounter with wisdom and set ablaze every heart we connect to with love.
But even as we journey as “Abrahams” to touch, to move, to give and to give more; we must also stay true to our inner “Isaacs” that “digs wells” and focuses inward –— on his values, his G-d, his family and his soul — consistently, each and every day.
To develop our inner Isaac is, oftentimes, much harder than to develop our inner Abraham. We all love to go out, connect to others, launch projects and be smiles from ear to ear.
Yet to be an Isaac, and focus on revealing our inner purpose, we need persistence, humility and the strength of conviction. It is easy to give a dollar to charity and perform a random act of kindness. But how about facing ourselves in the mirror and doing all that it takes to exercise our G-d given talents and skills, for them, and not just a dollar bill, to illuminate the world? It is painless to smile on the outside, especially when one feels like it. But how about smiling inside our homes, especially after a long day of work, when we come home drained and exhausted? To bring a child to the world is pleasurable. But to educate a child is much more difficult.
But an Isaac knows that beneath the stones and the dirt awaits a wellspring ready to erupt and give life to all its surroundings with fresh and pure waters. And so, an Isaac never gives up, and he digs and digs and digs consistently until all gems from within are unearthed.
So are we ready to follow the footsteps of both of our forefathers and develop our Isaac too, with consistency, inside ourselves, inside our homes and inside our communities? JN
Rabbi Pinchas Allouche is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefillah In Scottsdale.