I was having a discussion with someone in Shul and he said that many big rabbis believe that he failed the test.


He should have said no to gd when asked to kill his son, and he lost communication with gd and other members after the whole fiasco.

What is the general Orthodox (Kabbalistic) answer?

My view is that of course he didn't fail the test.

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    – sam
    Aug 14, 2014 at 23:05
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    "general Orthodox (Kabbalistic) answer"???
    – Double AA
    Aug 15, 2014 at 0:26
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    By which DoubleAA means to ask, is Kabbalistic meant to be defining general Orthodox? Perhaps you want to separate that into "general Orthodox and Kabbalistic answer" Aug 15, 2014 at 2:03
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    "[H]e lost communication with ... and other members ..." Other members of what?
    – Tamir Evan
    Aug 15, 2014 at 15:51
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    @robev academia.edu/36608361/… There's a very old tradition of criticizing Avraham for not praying for mercy for Yitzchak, with some attributing Avraham's not meriting being given the Torah to this misstep. Does that mean he failed the test? Probably not. But he didn't pass with flying colors as the answers below suggest.
    – Double AA
    Feb 11, 2021 at 3:21

3 Answers 3


In Braishis 22 we read

  1. And an angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven.
  2. And he said, "By Myself have I sworn, says the Lord, that because you have done this thing and you did not withhold your son, your only one,
  3. That I will surely bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore, and your descendants will inherit the cities of their enemies.
  4. And through your children shall be blessed all the nations of the world, because you hearkened to My voice."

Sounds like a ringing endorsement of Avrohom’s behaviour to me!

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    It doesn't to me...? At least not of his behavior at the Akeida. If you give anyone successively harder tests, they'd eventually fail, at which point you'd know definitively what level they were at. Just because Avraham failed this test doesn't mean he's evil. He's still at a level worth blessing, as evidenced by previous successful tests.
    – Double AA
    Aug 15, 2014 at 14:37
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    @DoubleAA "because you have done this thing and you did not withhold your son" ...
    – Yishai
    Aug 15, 2014 at 15:04
  • @Yishai I'll say it differently. He passed the test enough to get this blessing, but that doesn't imply he passed it with an A+.
    – Double AA
    Feb 11, 2021 at 3:28

Get specific names. The point of much commentary is that the test was to go against his nature and be willing just as Yitzchak (especially if he was 37) had to be willing to be sacrificed. However, Yitzchak's characteristic was strength and it was not as much of a test because once he died it would be over. Avraham would have to live with it and it violated the trait of kindness which was his essence. Part of the test was also to be willing and able to hear the angel and stop, which showed he was in control throughout.

I do not know about Kabbala but this is what the meforshim that I have read seem to say. See for example what Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch writes throughout the incident.

The meforshim seem to say that his is why it was the ultimate test of Avraham. The test of rejecting Yishmael was also a matter of his overcoming his natural compassion for his child. Indeed from the descriptions of the meforshim, the "sending away" was supposed to be a formal matter and should not have resulted in the danger to Yishmael's life. That would not have happened had Hagar not panicked and gotten herself lost. Avraham had contact with Yishmael afterwards and the meforshim state that Yishmael was one of the two attendants who accompanied them to the Akeidah site.

Rabbi Dressler speaks of the nekudas habechirah (the point of choice). A person faced with a trial in which the wrong answer goes against his natural tendency would not be "tested". For example, a person who has adhered to the strictest standards of kashrus throughout his life would not be tempted by a sale at Ruth's Chris Steak House (according to the ads it is among the top nonkosher dining places). However, someone who is just starting to learn about keeping kosher might find it a major trial. Some of the trials (such as Sodom) may have been tests as to how far his compassion would go. Or it may have also involved testing would he be in control of himself enough to stop praying.

  • I am not certain, but I think you are saying that they both passed the tests because they overcame their natural inclinations?
    – Mike
    Aug 15, 2014 at 1:42
  • @Mike that seems to be the implication of the meforshim. That is also why it was the ultimate test. Similarly with Avraham, meforshim state that he had to go against his natural compassion to send away Yishmael or to risk being unable to draw people to him by performing bris milah. Aug 15, 2014 at 3:50

The Mishnah (Avot 5:3) states explicitly that Abraham passed all ten of his tests:

עשרה נסיונות נתנסה אברהם אבינו עליו השלום ועמד בכולם

Abraham our father was tested with ten tests, and he withstood all of them.

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