Over this past weekend, I was at someone’s house where they were watching a football game. I do not have much of a desire to watch football, but there was not much to do so I watched for about ten minutes. As I watched, I noticed something very funny. One team kicked the ball off to the other and the receiver that caught the ball started running with it. One of the defensive players tackled him soon after he caught the ball and pumped his arm up in the air. He was so excited that he tackled the receiver that he needed to show off a little. My son started laughing at the silly dance this football player was doing.
Compare this to the end of this week’s parsha. As we mentioned last week, Avraham Avinu (Abraham) was tested with ten trials. According to most opinions, the final test of them all is the end of Parshas Vayera. It is the Akeidah, which is when Avraham was commanded to bring his son, Yitzchak, as an offering. Avraham followed perfectly everything G-d told him to do. He truly proved he was a great servant. And how does he respond? Did Avraham celebrate with a huge party? Did he throw his arm up in the air so everyone could see how great he was? I saw in a book called Meshulchan Gevoha that the last verse of the Akeidah explains how he behaved. It says that Avraham returned to Yishmael and Eliezer, his servants, and walked with them. Yishmael and Eliezer had no idea what had just happened and this was just a typical stroll through the land for them. These two men walked the same way they always did and that is how Avraham walked also. He walked WITH Yishmael and Eliezer. He did not show off. He did not tell anyone that he had just accomplished one of the greatest trials that any person ever faced. He did not say that because of what just happened, the Jews would merit from it for thousands of years. He walked home normally like it was just another day in his life.
What does a football player accomplish? A good football running back will rush for 100 yards in a three hour game. I can run 100 yards in under 20 seconds! Do you realize that the total amount of time that action is occuring in a football game is about 10 minutes? Is this any reason to show off? Does this make someone great? This tackle is forgotten a few hours later. Even if it is one of the greatest tackles ever, it will be forgotten after a couple of years.
On the other hand, the Akeidah has been remembered for 4000 years but Avraham Avinu did not show off. Maybe what this is trying to teach us is that the things that will be remembered, are those things that we are modest about.
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