As I consider YCT’s mission to bring vibrant Torah leadership to our Orthodox community and to the entire Jewish community, I am drawn to the models of Avraham and of Yitzchak and the complementary roles that they played in the founding of our Peoplehood.
Avraham is the visionary; he bravely breaks from the past and pursues a new path. He is a seeker, willing to abandon a comfortable existence to discover world-shaping truths. In his quest for an authentic life for himself and for us, his descendents, Avraham strives daily to understand God’s will and to live a life propelled by moral and religious imperatives.
Yitzchak anchors our faith and ensures continuity. After his father’s efforts to create a new nation by leaving his home, Yitzchak rejects a life of wandering, stays in the land, and grounds Judaism with a firm foundation. He creates the necessary structure for our Peoplehood with patterns of practice and a sense of communal stability. And Yitzchak redigs old wells and digs new ones, ensuring that these traditional practices remain vibrant, spiritually nourishing, and life-giving.
Jewish history has had many idealistic, even prophetic, Avrahams: visionaries who have responded to the challenges of their day and have created our world anew. Without such Avrahams, we — as a people, a culture, and a religious force — would have remained fixed in the past. But we have survived as a people because we have had Yitzchaks too, leaders who sustain, nurture and support us so that we can hold fast to our traditions and commitments and transmit them to the next generation. These pragmatists rely on an unchanging bedrock from which to lead.
In my role as President and Rosh HaYeshivah, I aim to sustain and expand YCT’s mission to teach, train and support rabbis and religious leaders who embody the qualities of both Avraham and Yitzchak. A leader purely in the model of Avraham may find himself anchorless, always seeking, never able to build and sustain a community. A leader only in the model of Yitzchak, however, may ensure continuity but fail to provide relevance, direction, and a larger sense of purpose. Taken together, the models of Avraham and Yitzchak compel us to engage deeply with tradition, halakha, text, and history while responding to the challenges of the modern world and addressing our profound yearning for significance and truth.
Rabbi Dov Linzer, President and Rosh Yeshiva