Abraham Founded a New Religion. His Son Isaac Preserved It https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/religion-holidays/2021/11/abraham-founded-a-new-religion-his-son-isaac-preserved-it/

November 5, 2021 | David Wolpe
About the author: David Wolpe is rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and the author of, among other books, Why Be Jewish? and Why Faith Matters. He can be found on Twitter @RabbiWolpe.

Edmund Burke, the founder of modern political conservatism, wrote that the social contract binds not only citizens to their government and to one another, but also to the generations that came before them and those that will come after them. It is in this sense that Isaac is, as David Wolpe puts it, the most conservative of the biblical patriarchs:

[This] week’s Torah readings begins with “This is the legacy of Isaac,” and goes on to say “Abraham begot Isaac,” suggesting that his legacy is his father.

What are we intended to learn from Isaac’s life? Isaac had a critical contribution to make, which threads together several aspects of his life. Isaac is the conservative principle, the preserver, the paradigm of continuity. Abraham has created something new. The question is whether the innovation of Abraham will endure. In ways both overt and subtle, Isaac consolidates what has been created. As we are living in an age when everyone is preoccupied with disruption and innovation, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of preserving what previous generations have forged.

Isaac instantiates the idea of creating a legacy of unbroken coherence. In Genesis 26 are contained two of the features of Isaac’s life that highlight his character. Isaac re-opened the wells that were first dug by his father Abraham (26:18). This is a powerful symbol of the importance of continuity. The wells had been stopped up by the Philistines, but rather than dig new ones, Isaac restores the old. A few verses earlier God instructs Isaac not to go down to Egypt. Isaac is the only patriarch who does not leave the land of Israel. Abraham has been led to a new land. His son proves that his father’s choice can nourish a life.

Read more on Jerusalem Post: https://www.jpost.com/judaism/torah-portion/parashat-toldot-the-conservative-patriarch-684085