If sportswriters had followed Abraham's life, they no doubt would have dubbed him "Mr. Self-Sacrifice."

As a young man, he spent 10 years in a dungeon for his religious beliefs. Later he was thrown auto-da-fe style into a blazing furnace for his public refusal to bow to the idolatrous king.

He then dedicated his life to helping others. Though rich enough to live in an upscale oasis, he chose instead to make his home in a simple desert tent, providing the needy with food, shade and spiritual guidance.

But it wasn't until the binding of Isaac that Abraham's faithfulness could truly be measured. We find that G‑d actually begged Abraham, "Please pass this test — lest all you've done till now go for naught."

Sometimes self-sacrifice is not as selfless as it's cracked up to be. In fact, it can be as profit-driven as a good business decision. Whether the perceived gain is eternal bliss or political propaganda, a famous death can look better than an obscure life. The profit outweighs the loss.

In the self-sacrifice business, however, the binding of Isaac was for Abraham a terrible investment. All of his eggs were in Isaac's basket. Abraham's mission was to spread goodness in the world, and Isaac was the only one capable of spreading that goodness to the next generation. Abraham dreamed of fathering a holy nation, and Isaac was the one through whom that nation was meant to come.

This was a balance sheet that was only losses! Without Isaac, everything goes down the drain. Yet Abraham was prepared to give up everything, if that's what G‑d wanted him to do.

The balance sheet of life can be misleading. There are illnesses, tragedies, loss of life and wasted talents — and we wonder: If G‑d is behind this, what could possibly be the point of all these "losses"?

With the binding of Isaac, Abraham teaches us to faithfully march ahead, focused on our goals and dreams. And in the end we see that what looked like a loss is really an immeasurable profit.