Â PREPARED FOR LIFE
Rav Abahu said, why do we blow a Shofar made of a ram’s horn (on Rosh Hashana)? G-d said, blow Shofar of a ram before Me on Rosh Hashana, so that I will remember the Akeidah of Yitzhak, son of Abraham for you, and I will consider it as if you performed your own Akeidah before Me. (Rosh Hashana 16a) I always wondered how G-d could consider that we sacrificed ourselves on the Altar to Him? How can anything we do be considered in any way like Yitzhakâ€™s self- sacrifice, even in the wildest stretch of imagination? And why does Rav Abahu mention Yitzhak son of Abraham?
Itâ€™s quite interesting. Out of the whole episode, it is the Akeida, of all things, that G-d remembers. Because that is all that a human being, even one as great as Yitzhak, can do. Prepare. Maybe your Akeida will not be considered as being exactly like the Akeidah of Yitzhak, but by preparing the way he did, that preparation will be considered a sacrifice, just as it was for Yitzhak.
You see, Yitzhak did not just jump onto the Altar and ask to get it over with. Yitzhak was very prepared. He asked to be tied. The Akeidah is the binding that Yitzhak asked of his father, so that he would not make any movement, causing himself to be pasul, unfit as a sacrifice. Yitzhak was also concerned about the possibility that he could involuntarily hurt his father, out of a reflex action.Â Even in that fateful moment, his thoughts were concentrated on not causing his father to bleed. (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer) He was totally calm about the situation and prepared for it, so he was able to think about doing the job in the best possible way. Yitzhak asked to be bound, so that he could be totally prepared. For that is all that G-d wants from us. To be prepared to serve Him.
The Noam Elimelech derives the secret of Chassidut from here: if you want to daven well, prepare yourself to die Al Kidush Hashem. Vision yourself ready to die for the sake of G-dâ€™s Name, and your kavvana will soar. Each morning before prayer, visualize your very own Akeidah.
Your life is about how well you perform. There is a rule in performance. The 6 P rule. Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. If you made a parenting mistake, donâ€™t blame yourself. Just be more prepared next time. If you schmoozed through your learning Seder, donâ€™t feel bad. Just be more prepared next time. If you spaced out through Shemoneh Esrei, donâ€™t feel like a loser. Just be more prepared next time.
You see, your performance will be as great as your preparation . As a rebbi, I have learned this the hard way. When I am not prepared enough, even if the boys in Shiur donâ€™t know the Gemara well, they feel that I am unprepared. And they are insulted.
When your Shabbat table is not a Shabbat table – no singing, no connection with the kids, no divrei Torah, most of the time – itâ€™s because you, the father, are not prepared. You did not prepare what to say, you did not prepare what to sing, or you did not prepare a topic your kids are interested in. Your Shabbat Table can make the family reach a much higher spiritual level, if you just prepare. Itâ€™s amazing what a bag of treats can do.
I am not blaming myself, or anybody else. I am trying to understand life. All we do, our whole life, is prepare. Think about what we do most of our productive hours in life. You prepare your house for better living. Prepare for work. Prepare for eating. Prepare for a good sleep. Of course, what ends up happening is always only in G-dâ€™s Hands. But He leaves preparation up to us and expects us to prepare.
Scary things happen when we forget to prepare for the important things in life. Preparation leads to making the right choices in life. You can prepare to bring up children, or just happen to have them grow up in your home. You can prepare the necessary attitudes and behaviors that make a tranquil home, or just happen to live there. You can prepare your children for leading a life of serving G-d, or just wait and see what happens.
The greatest things that human beings accomplish are usually the rewards G-d grants for the great efforts that were expended.