In the parsha of the Akaidah there is a recurring phrase of וילכו יחדיו and they walked together. In the first time that it appears (Bereishis 22,6) the passuk says that Avraham took the wood for the korban and he placed it on Yitzchak his son, he took the fire, the knife, and they walked together. The second time this same phrase was written is only two pessukim later where Avraham answered Yitzchak’s question to his father where is the animal for the sacrifice? With Avraham’s answer to his son that Hashem will show us the korban, the dialogue ends again with וילכו שניהם יחדיו. The third time we find this phrase of walking together is after the Akaidah when Avraham returns to Eliezer and Yishmael who did not ascend the mountain. They left Har Hamoriya and traveled towards Be’ar Sheva whereupon the Torah describes their departure as וילכו יחדו.
Anyone who learns Chumash with a depth realizes that a three-time repetition of a phrase in the same parsha is conveying a theme that runs throughout. Especially a phrase such as ours AND THEY WALKED TOGETHER used three times during one episode begs one to seek a deeper meaning into this phrase than merely to tell us that they walked as a group. What is this theme and meaning that the Torah is revealing to us through this repetitive and even back to back description of the two walking together?
The Torah commands the Yid to love Hashem בכל מאדך. Rashi brings two interpretations of the word מאדך. One pshat is money, and the second is מדה. Let us focus on the second interpretation. The lashon of Rashi is to love Hashem בכל מדה ומדה שמודד לך with any middah that he directs towards you, whether it comes in the form of apparent good, or even if it appears punitive. In both situations, we must strive to accept and perceive them as coming from Hashem our benefactor from the one who loves us and therefore we should love Him for what He does. A hint to this derasha is that the gematriah of ואהבת יהו’ בכל מאדך (+4 words) equals .בכל מדה ומדה שמודד לך 561. For if one can come to the clear realization that everything Hashem does is for your good because the purpose of creation is for Him to be a מטיב, then you will live with inner peace and with much less anxiety. This emunah is hinted in the end beracha of Shemoneh Esrai המברך את עמו ישראל בשלום. In this word בשלום there is an allusion to the emunah of בכל מאדך for the acronym of בכל מדה ומדה שמודד לך is בשלום.
The Avos are called ישרים as Billam himself requested that he should die the death of the Avos who are called ישרים. The passuk says (Tehillim 25,8) טוב וישר ה’ על כן יורה חטאים בדרך Hashem is good and straight. The juxtaposition of these two middos, demonstrate that one who is good is also straight for the crooked and off the straight path, suggest evil and wrongdoing. Since Hashem manifests these two qualities, He therefore redirects the sinners to return on the straight path so they will also return to do good. The Avos were believers and identified with Hashem’s goodness and Yashrus in the creation of the world, so they too were called ישרים. The title ישרים is also gematriah 561 the same as בכל מדה ומדה שמודד לך. The Avos were able to perceive that what seemed punitive and harsh is really an expression of Hashem’s love to us as Dovid Hamelech wrote צרה ויגון אמצא ובשם הויה אקרא that even if I encounter tzaros and agony I call these episodes expressions of Hashem’s name הויה which means compassion and rachmanus (Devarim 6,5 Rashi).
Now let us revisit this seemingly repetitious phrase and realize that it is not superfluous at all but rather very informative within the theme of loving Hashem with בכל מאדך. This tenth pinnacle test to Avraham was not merely indicative of his willingness to sacrifice Yitzchak, but whether he would go about it with total acceptance and emunah. That this seemingly harsh decree of sacrificing his only son was concealing Hashem’s deep rachmanus for his benefit, and therefore he was to rejoice in its fulfillment. As Avraham is taking the wood the fire and the knife, the Torah relates וילכו שניהם יחדו AND THEY WALKED TOGETHER. They walked as one with the same mind and heart set. Yitzchak, who was still unaware that he was the human sacrifice who Avraham was about to place upon the altar, was filled with such excitement and appreciation that he would be able to participate in sacrificing a korban to Hashem on the place of the future Bais Hamikdash. The passuk of יחדו is telling us that just as Yitzchak was experiencing a state of euphoria so too Avraham was joyous that he was given the opportunity to show his love to Hashem by sacrificing his son Yitzchak as the korban. Hashem is good and He can only ask from me actions that can only benefit me even though the goodness of the results cannot be detected or observed immediately. AND THEY WALKED TOGETHER.
In the following scene, we find Avraham disclosing to Yitzchak the real purpose of their ascent to Har Hamoriya which is to sacrifice him not a lamb. The Torah does not record any reaction to Yitzchak’s hearing this sudden stark reality of him being the human sacrifice, an act which went against everything that he was taught from his father and against the middah of chesed of his father. The only recorded reaction of the Torah is AND THEY WALKED TOGETHER. This time however it is Yitzchak who walked together with Avraham. Just as Avraham was happy to perform such a sacrifice to Hashem, Yitzchak even with the awareness that he is the Korban, he too was also joyous. AND THEY WALKED TOGETHER. The theme of וילכו יחדו אברהם ויצחק with the four words equals 561 בכל מדה ומדה שמודד לך. Both of them were at the emunah level to love Hashem with all their מאד even at the trying ordeal of sacrificing Yitzchak as a korban.
The Akaidah means to bind together, specifically tying Yitzchak’s hands and feet behind himself. However, there are different levels on how to understand the context of the various bindings that took place during this test. Avraham was first bound to Yitzchak with the same heart level of simcha and then Yitzchak was bound together with Avraham’s heart of joy for this opportunity of fulfilling such a demonstration of love to Hashem. In Shema the two names of Hashem ה’ אלקנו representing the middah of strictness and the middah of rachamanus are bound together in the words of הויה אחד that even the din is rachamim. This is part and parcel of the עקידה the binding of these two names together by Avraham and Yitzchak. This can be seen in the hinting of the gematriah that עקידה equals הויה אלהיך בכל מאד that even when receiving the middas Hadin one must love Hashem with that middah as well.
Now we can come to the third time this phrase was used in the parsha of the Akaidah. When Avraham returns to Yishmael and Eliezer who accompanied them to the mountain but remained down for they did not merit seeing the cloud hanging over the mountain, the passuk says וילכו יחדו AND THEY WALKED TOGETHER. The Torah writes this third walk together in order to explain the humility and non-haughtiness of Avraham after achieving the greatness of passing the tenth test. There was no trophy or ribbon ceremony awaiting him on his return as would be present by record breakers and heroes. Avraham was as humble as one could be as he previously described his character as אנכי עפר ואפר. After his return, he walked together with the two individuals who hadn’t the faintest idea with what just transpired on top of the mountain, an event that would affect the destiny of Am Yisrael and the world forever. Avraham didn’t brag or raise his nose at them and say now I must keep different company because of my newly acquired prestige in the eyes of the Creator of the universe. Avraham walked together with them as if he was unaffected by the Akaida just as them, except their same state, stemmed from the lack of knowledge.
This last וילכו יחדו is also a fulfillment of ואהבת ה’ אלקיך בכל מאדך. The word מאד besides meaning money and middah, can also be interpreted as the middah of humility. This we can see from Chazal who say (Avos 4,4)מאד מאד הוי שפל רוח one should be extremely humble. The word מאד symbolizes humility for it shares the same letters as אדם who comes from the אדמה earth, which is the lowest of the four elements of creation. ונפשי כעפר לכל תהיה. Therefore the Torah in the passuk of ואהבת is relating to us that even if one serves Hashem בכל לבבך with all his heart like an Avraham Avinu upon whom the passuk says ומצאת את לבבו נאמן לפניך, and he serves Hashem with בכל נפשך as Yitzchak at the Akaidah willing to give up his life, nevertheless the Torah commands to love Hashem with all your מאד your humility and not become complacent in your avodah because you reached a plateau of spiritual greatness. Yaakov who’s facial countenance was that of Adam Harishon said to Hashem קטנתי מכל המעשים (Bereishis 32,1).
As for a summation of this mamar, we can say that the Akaidah attained its spiritual success because of these three bindings of וילכו יחדיו all which share the theme of loving Hashem with all מאדך. To summarize that in gematriah, וילכו plus three times the word יחדיו add up to עקדה. The Akaidah is all about a WALKING TOGETHER that nourishes and breeds spiritual growth. May all our walks together accomplish the same spiritual loftiness as the יחדו of the Akaidah. גדלו לה’ אתי ונרוממה שמו יחדו (Tehillim 34,4).