22:6: They went both of them together.
22:8 So they went both of them together.
22:19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-sheba;
The Torah tells us that when Avraham went with Yitzchak to the akeida, they went “together” – with the same amount of excitement – to perform the mitzvah of Hashem. Even though Avraham knew that he was going to have to slaughter his son Yitzchak, Yitzchak at this time was unaware of what was supposed to happen.
Two verses later, the Torah again uses the word “together”, but at this time Yitzchak had become aware that he was going to be the sacrifice. However, the Torah tells us that he was just as committed as he was as at the beginning.
After the trial of the akeida, Hashem blesses Avraham and he returns “together” with them to Beersheba. Chazal tell us that the “young men” that we are talking about are Yishmael and Eliezer, who were not present at the akeida. Yet Avraham was just like them: Just as they were unchanged by the akeida (because there were unaware of the akeida), so too Avraham was unchanged by the akeida.
One of today’s greatest darshanim once told me, that to him, this “unchanged” state of Avraham is more impressive than the akeida itself. Avraham was able to attain an incredibly great level of devotion, to the point that he even convinced the malachim of his devotion, yet he was totally unchanged. The thought is truly spectacular; however, I would like to give an insight how someone in our times can actually live like that.
There is a final match between the two best teams in the league, and all the players are keyed up for the event. The fans of each side are convinced that their side will win, and in the end the winning team is declared the best in the world. The probabilities of victory for each team was equal. Oddly enough, the losing team is sometimes considered second rate, even though logically they should be considered second best. Yet looking at it closely, the team that won is not such a great achievement – one of the two teams had to win! Getting to the game is really a much greater achievement than winning that one last game.
Avraham had built himself up through his avodas hashem, and was ready for the test of the akeida. However, he was able to understand that his success in overcoming this challenge was not so significant. Perhaps it could be equated to a person who is involved in learning shmiras halashon, and then does not speak loshon hara (which is an accomplishment, but not necessarily one that is perceived as so spectacular).
The idea which we must draw strength from is that if indeed Hashem gave us a test, it is within our ability to overcome it. Therefore, it would be improper to pat ourselves on the back for passing the test, rather the major accomplishment is that we reached the level that we were able to be tested.
Years ago, when playing video games, once a round was completed, a new round was presented, slightly more challenging than the previous round. There was no going back – the game forced you to continue on with the next challenge. So too with Avraham and with our own lives: After each test that we pass, we must recoup and become humble to realize that the next round may indeed be more challenging as we climb the ladder to becoming greater people.