By Sholom Olensky
This week in the Torah:
Scripture emphasizes that Isaac was Abraham’s son and in fact resembled him. The Torah mentions this as important to Isaac’s own life experience (discussed this week) as opposed to being only relevant to the account of his birth (last week).
Abraham is known to have served G-d predominantly out of love; Isaac, predominantly out of fear. Why, then, the emphasis of Isaac’s resemblance to Abraham (this week, as mentioned above)? Indeed, “Isaac” (“Yitzchak” in Hebrew) means laughter and joy. How does one carry such a name when it is said that his main service was out of fear?
Love of another is not a feeling that abnegates oneself, rather the one loving is involved and knows of his own devotion. Fear and awe, rather, leave a person not concerned with himself, as he feels lowly and humble before the one whom he fears. The same is with the love or fear of G-d.
Accordingly, the sense of fear before G-d, can serve as a conditioning of self so as to allow for an eventual closeness to G-d; a closeness that is even greater than that which is achieved by love alone. For, the void of self-concern more perfectly negates the sense-of-self which might block fuller attachment with G-d.
Isaac’s fear of G-d and resulting loss of self-concern, was actually a seat for an even greater experience of closeness to G-d; “Yitzchak” – laughter and joy.
(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 30, Toldos)