A salute to those who persevere

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

How often do we stop to salute the quiet people, the dedicated ones, those who persevere? Let's admit that the story of the life of Yitzchak Avinu seems much less dramatic than the story of Avraham. Avraham was a revolutionary who rebelled against all the conventional wisdom of his day and laid the foundations of Judaism. Yitzchak did not rebel and yet, it could be said, to continue in the path of your father, as Yitzchak did, is the biggest rebellion of all.

Therefore parashat Toldot is a salute to the second generation, a salute to those who do not create drama or cause any "wow" moments, who simply work and toil and do what is necessary. How gray and boring it seems, to persist in what your parents began. How dull to walk down the same road, even if you find in it previously undiscovered depths of meaning where renewal comes from within and does not depend on outside circumstances.

We read how Yitzchak confronts the same challenges his father faced, how he digs the same wells, hears the same promises from God, and yet all of this ultimately elicits our admiration. Without Yitzchak and his dedication and commitment, Avraham would have just been a one-time phenomenon with no residual effect.

The perseverance demonstrated by Yitzchak is relevant to the education of our children, to marriage, and to every other area of life. Without consistency and determination and depth, it's impossible to build anything that lasts. "All beginnings are difficult" (Mechilta d'Rabbi Yishmael 19:5) and we are accustomed to speak at great length about the pioneers. Yet all continuations are difficult, too, and those who come after the trail blazers earn much less praise. Once a year, in this parasha, we are given the opportunity to salute those who come next and persevere.

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