Avraham is described in the midrashim as being extreme in the mitzva of hachnasat orchim (hospitality). Through this method, he was able to mekarev (reach out to) thousands of people and teach them about God.

I know of no parallel mention of Yitzchak or Yaakov continuing this huge hospitality program, so it seems it stopped with Yitzchak. Why didn't Yitzchak follow in his father's footsteps regarding this? Did he perhaps continue it with a different method?

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    I remember hearing that Lot's hospitality to the angels in the story of Sdom is mentioned somewhere as unexceptional because he was raised by Abraham. I wonder if that is similarly mentioned regarding Yitzhak or if you can apply the same logic. – Charles Koppelman Oct 28 '13 at 19:53
  • Didn't Avraham shut down the "kiruv" when he sent away all the people to the east? – avi Jan 7 '14 at 12:35

The Midrash Rabbah (84,2) on Bereishis teaches that all the Avos made converts to the service of Hashem:

Avraham made converts, as it says in Bereishis 12,5 "And Avram took Sarai, his wife...and the souls they had acquired in Haran". These are the converts whom Avraham converted.

Yaakov made converts, as it says in Bereishis 35,2 "Thereupon Jacob said to his household and to all those who were with him: Remove the deities of the foreign nations, which are in your midst, purify yourselves and change your clothes".

And where do we see that Yitzchok also made converts? From the posuk in Bereishis 37,1 "And Yaakov dwelt in the land of his father's sojournings (מגורי אביו), in the land of Canaan. Why does it say מגורי אביו (instead of the more normal expression ישיבת אביו - explanation of the Matnos Kehunah)? To teach you that it was the land of מגיורי אביו - the land where his father made converts.

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I do not understand your question. Why not ask why didnt Avrohom become a massive pillar in Avodah, or in Torah. Why was he so bent on Gemilas Chassodim. Let me offer my opinion.

It is well known (source someone?) that Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaackov correspond to the three pillars, Chesed, Gevurah, and Tiferes.

So Avraham being Middas HaChessed showed extra effort in Gemilas HaChassodim. Yitzchok however excelled in Avodah, and surely he perfected an art in that area.

Life isnt about following what your father did, but rather taking his example and finding your own niche in which to excel.

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  • so he closed down the kiruv program? – ray Nov 6 '13 at 20:47
  • @ray If you look at the Rambam in hilchos avoda zara 1:33, it seems that yes, he did close down the kiruv program - Avraham had a Yeshiva with tens of thousands of students, and Yitzchok had a Yeshiva with one student, Yaakov. – Y     e     z Jan 17 '14 at 20:12
  • @YEZ - that is the question - why? – ray Jan 18 '14 at 18:17
  • I think that was answered in the answer given - that wasn't his area of focus. I was merely giving a Rishon who confirms that that is the case. – Y     e     z Jan 19 '14 at 0:24


My answer is that the generations stood on each other's shoulders, each refining and elevating -- and perhaps also tempering and balancing -- the avodah of the previous. Avraham Avinu's chesed proved--through Yishmael--susceptible to corruption. Yitzchak was, by contrast, a master of gevurah; gevurah was needed at that time in order to perfect the service of the generations.

We see, as you allude, that there was a problem with this, too. An avodah that is only gevurah is by definition incomplete. One must both love and fear G-d entirely and simultaneously at every moment of life. Thus did Yitzchak's unmitigated gevurah also prove susceptible to corruption, namely through Eisav. Only by the birth of Yakov were the attributes in perfect balance whereby he could have twelve (and more) completely righteous children.

See also this very relevant and interesting question.

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