Our Sages tell us that G‑d tested Avraham 10 times.1 The final and most difficult test was the Akeidah , the binding of Yitzchak on the altar. This is recounted in the Torah portion Vayeira , which relates how G‑d told Avraham: “Please take your son, your only son, whom you love, Yitzchak… and offer him as a burnt-offering….”2

The Rambam explains3 that the intent of this test was twofold: “To inform us of the perimeters of love and awe of G‑d — how very far it extends.” Also, “to inform us how prophets truly believed in that which was revealed to them by G‑d during prophecy… For all that a prophet sees in the vision of prophecy is authentic and true for the prophet, who doesn’t doubt any part of it.”

The Rambam goes on to say: “The proof lies in that Avraham agreed to offer his only son whom he loved as he was commanded, even though this command came in a dream or a vision…. He would not have done so if there had been the slightest doubt [in his mind about the veracity of the prophecy].”

Mt. Moriah, the mountain upon which the Akeidah took place, was so hallowed that it became the site of the Beis HaMikdash — the place where the Jewish people would subsequently be privileged to witness G‑dliness and bring offerings.4

There is a direct correlation between the two things revealed to the world through the Akeidah and the two primary functions of the Beis HaMikdash :

The love and awe of G‑d that was revealed through the Akeidah meant that the main aspect of spiritual service, that of offerings, would take place in this location. For Avraham’s demonstration of unbounded love and awe prepared this place for continued service in this manner.

Additionally, the absolute truth of prophecy that was manifest through the Akeidah stimulated Avraham to pray that this place be a site for the revelation of the Divine Presence. Thus we find that Avraham “called the name of the place ‘The L-rd Will See,’ as it is referred to this day, ‘On the mount where the L-rd shall reveal Himself.’ ”5

This may be what the Rambam alludes to when he writes with regard to the Beis HaMikdash :6 “An abode for G‑d, prepared for bringing the offerings; a place to come and celebrate three times a year.”

“Bringing the offerings” refers to the service of offerings; “a place to come and celebrate three times a year” refers to beholding G‑d, for: “Just as they appeared before G‑d (‘Three times a year … appear before the L-rd’7) so too did G‑d appear to them.”8

Specifically, the two things established through the Akeidah — spiritual service and the indwelling of the Divine Presence — are generally related to the primary difference between Avraham and his son Yitzchak with regard to the Akeidah.

The self-sacrifice of the Akeidah rested primarily on Avraham, who had to suppress his compassion for his only son in order to bring him as an offering. For even when Yitzchak became aware that it was he who was supposed to die, his self-sacrifice could not compare to his father’s, who had to offer up a child born to him in his old age.

Indeed, because the Akeidah was much more difficult for Avraham than Yitzchak, the Torah describes it as Avraham’s tenth and ultimate test, and not as a test for Yitzchak. For it is easier to offer one’s own life than the life of one’s child.9 This then was the service of the Akeidah.

Yitzchak’s part in the Akeidah was mostly related to the result — the Akeidah imbued him with the sanctity of an Olah offering. Becoming sanctified is, of course, related to the indwelling of the Divine Presence.

The deeds of our fathers Avraham and Yitzchak also enable their children, the Jewish people, to achieve both aspects of spirituality: We are empowered to achieve the loftiest levels of spiritual service, and also to bring about an indwelling and revelation of the Divine Presence within this world.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XXX, pp. 73-75.