Imrei Binah - Parshas Vayeira

Why does the Torah twice emphasize that Avrohom and Yitzchok went to the place of the sacrifice “both of them together”?

(22,4) “On the third day Avrohom raised his eyes and saw the place from afar. And Avrohom said to his lads: Stay here by yourselves…And Avrohom took the wood for the burnt-offering and placed it upon Yitzchok…and they went, both of them together. And Yitzchok said to Avrohom his father…Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt-offering? And Avrohom said: G-d will seek for Himself the sheep for the burnt-offering, my son. And they went, both of them together.”

Rabbi Ya’akov HaKohen from the city of Plotsk asked why the Torah mentions that they went “both of them together”, and not only once but twice!

He answered that the gemora in Yoma 37a says that one who walks opposite his Rav is an ignoramus, and Rashi explains that this means one who walks next to his Rav. And the same is true with regard to one’s father. Thus when one is walking with his father or his Rav he should honor them by allowing them to walk ahead of him.

But the earlier commentaries discuss an apparent contradiction between the gemora in Berachos 46b which teaches that one does not accord honor when travelling, and the gemora in Shabbos 51b which implies that one should accord honor when travelling. One of the answers given is that the first teaching refers to a case where the place in which they are travelling is dangerous, but if there is no danger one is obligated to honor one’s father and Rav and not walk next to them. Another answer is that if one is going to perform a mitzvah he does not need to accord honor to his father or Rav in order not to delay the performance of the mitzvah, but if it is an optional journey then he is required to accord them honor.

With these two answers we can explain our posukim: First it says that Avrohom “saw the place from afar” and the midrash and the Ba’al HaTurim explain that this means that the Satan distanced the place from them by placing a river in their way which was dangerous to cross. Therefore the Torah writes that they went “both of them together” to teach us that Yitzchok did not honor his father by letting him walk ahead of him because it was a place of danger. And later when he asked “where is the sheep for the burnt-offering?” and Avrohom answered that “G-d will seek for Himself the sheep for the burnt-offering, my son”, he understood that he was going to be the burnt-offering and thus he was going to perform a mitzvah. Therefore here too it says that they went “both of them together”, in order to hurry. Thus, the Torah writes in both places that they walked side by side in order to teach us these two rules.

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