Born to aged parents (Sarah was 90, Abraham was 100), Isaac was Abraham’s sole heir. This meant more than inheriting his wealth, it meant becoming the leading advocate of monotheism. Unlike his father, however, Isaac was not an outgoing “people-person.” Isaac was a more reserved personality who served God with gevurah, inner-strength, and spent his time studying and serving God.
God’s promise bequeathing the Land of Israel to Abraham was confirmed again with Isaac. In fact, it is said that Isaac’s commitment to the land was so great that he never left the confines of the land defined by God as the eventual inheritance of Abraham.
Isaac married Rebecca. They had difficulty conceiving. But, after praying fervently to God, Rebecca finally became pregnant with twins. She gave birth to the rough huntsman, Esau, and the quiet scholar, Jacob.
Isaac saw in Esau a man who was willing and able to be a “go-getter.” Esau often presented a pious front to his father, asking him obscure questions about God’s laws. When he was not with his father, however, Esau sought out the thrill of the hunt, even murder according to some opinions.. Because Isaac suffered from failing eyesight, he did not see that side of Esau and considered Esau to be the best choice as the spiritual heir for the blessings of Abraham. Rebecca, on the other hand, was aware of Esau’s true personality and knew that Jacob was the one really worthy of the spiritual inheritance. Thus the dynamics for the famous story of Isaac giving the blessing intended for Esau to Jacob.
Although Isaac is perceived as passive, he was extraordinarily dynamic in his passivity. The Torah tells us in Genesis 26:12 that “Isaac planted in the land and reaped a hundred fold.” It is Isaac who, through his tenacity and willingness to work tirelessly, truly took hold of the Land of Israel. He is thus regarded as the passive hero of the Torah and the Land of Israel.
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