Some call it the binding of Isaac, some the sacrifice of Isaac. In Hebrew, we all call it Akeidat Yitzchak, the “Akeidah.”
That does technically mean—the binding. But thinking deeply about the story and about the human relationships, there was indeed a sacrifice. Part of Isaac must have died there. Part of a father’s relationship with his son may have.
The man who vigorously bargained with God to save the City that became a metaphor for evil did not even try to bargain for the life of his son? And Isaac knows that?
On the other hand, what would you do if God gave you a face to face command?
Our Rabbis at Adat Shalom have challenged us over the years to view some of our basic stories with a critical eye—to see the complexity in some of the “simple Torah tales” we have learned. The Akeidah story is a prime example.
We think of Abraham as a great man and as “Avraham Avinu”–our Father Abraham, but he does not escape this story without criticism. That is part of the true beauty and genius of Torah. Our heroes are not perfect, nor are we expected to be. The Rabbis teach us of the Torah—“Maasei Avot, siman l’banim.” We are to learn from the actions of our ancestors.
This Shabbat we are privileged to learn with our Rabbi Aaron Bergman, “looking to whether Abraham and Sarah’s action led to the Akeidah.” Rabbi Bergman asks us to consider, “Did God want a slavish following of orders or the development of a human sense of morality not dependent upon command?” We will be engaged in a discussion of the question, “Does religion require fanaticism?”
9:45 a.m. in the Shiffman Chapel. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.