In the parsha this week we read of a shattered Abraham. His beloved wife has died and he is in mourning. But adding to his sorrow, we see that no longer does he have a relationship with his son Isaac nor with his God. In the aftermath of the Akeidah, the patriarch is alone. A towering figure without a spouse, a son, a God. And yet, the text tells us that after his wrenching ordeals ‘…vayakam Avraham…that Abraham got up…’. He wiped away his tears, shook off his loneliness and went on with his life. The Torah’s praise of Abraham’s indomitable spirit speaks to us thousands of years later in a timeless message.
We all undergo episodes in our lives that are harrowing. Losses and setbacks that bring us into a darkness from which we fear there is no escape. Life provides us two options in the wake of tragedy. We can collapse or we can recover. The Kotsker Rebbe wisely said ‘… some chassidim brag that they have brought the dead back to life but I like to brag that I have brought the living back to life.’
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don’t be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit: it’s so easy to quit:
It’s the keeping your chin up that’s hard.
It’s easy to cry that you’re beaten-and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight-
Why that’s the best game of all!
And though you come out of each grueling bout,
All broken and beaten and scared,
Just have one more try-it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.