This week’s parsha concludes with the dramatic episode of the akeidah, one of the most problematic and religiously significant stories in world literature. Yet, in truth, the parsha includes several additional verses after this story. These verses list the children of Nachor, Avraham’s brother. Why does the Torah interrupt the story of Avraham and Yitzchak with the seemingly unnecessary list of Nachor’s children?
Rashi comments that this list is included because it contains the name of Rebecca. Avraham realized after the akeidah that he must marry Yitzchak and Rebecca was the natural choice as she was part of Avraham’s family.
Rabbi Soloveitchik, however, suggests another explanation for the inclusion of this list. Rabbi Soloveitchik explains that, according to the rabbis, Avraham endures ten trials and tests during his lifetime culminating with the akeidah. He argues that the challenges that Avraham faced were difficult. Yet, the Torah reminds us at the end of Avraham’s life that the most difficult part of Avraham’s life was the fact that while Avraham was suffering, his brother was enjoying prosperity and success. In life, people often seek comfort for their struggles by recognizing the others also suffer. Avraham was not granted this level of comfort as he was faced and reminded of the successes of his brother.
Rabbi Soloveitchik concludes that the fact that Avraham had to compare himself to his brother may have been his toughest challenge and, therefore, the Torah waits until the end of Avraham’s life to tell us about Nachor’s success. Avraham met this challenge as he met all the others and vowed to continue, ironically as it were, marrying his son to the granddaughter of his brother, Nachor.
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