October 11, 2005

The Akedah Revisited

There have been a number of posts regarding the Akedah. You can some of them in the following places:
Mine , Mirty, Shira, Miriam

And now Elie has added some more thoughts on this that I wanted to share.
"But Abraham's faith, and connection with God, was such that he absolutely knew that this was really God's direct command, and furthermore, that whatever God wanted would come out all right in the end. I think the key to this is in the only line of dialogue that Abraham has in the entire episode. In response to Isaac's question regarding the sacrifice, Abraham replied "God will see to the lamb, my son." His belief that God was taking care of them was complete.

But even so, the trial was, as our sages tell us, the most difficult of the many that Abraham had to endure. Even with perfect faith, going through the act, until God stopped him, could not have been anything but excruciating. To make a somewhat mundane analogy: when people go bungee jumping or skydiving, no matter how much they know that the cord/parachute is there, they must still experience a thrill of fear before jumping.

Abraham's belief in the God was not just unproven blind faith, but as solid as our belief in "real-world" objects like bungee cords and parachutes. And so must Isaac's have been as well, for him to experience this event and come out with his relationship with God unscathed.

And thus, Abraham became the one and only individual asked directly by God to perform a ritual child sacrifice. Not because God ever wanted such a horrific event - as demonstrated by its conclusion - but to prove Abraham's unshakable faith and obedience for all time."
I am in agreement with the argument about looking at this within the context of the time in which it happened because that is an important part of history. For example it is easy for us to look back condemn dropping the bomb on Japan, but we do so without having been part of a war that encompassed large parts of the world for years at a time.

Here is where I am struggling. I am struggling with the idea that this was done to serve as proof of Abraham's perfect faith. Aren't there other tests that could be provided. Wouldn't there have been a number of different means by which G-d could have given the test. For a being that I believe to be omnipotent, this seems like sloppy work.

I don't know, I am just a bit hung up on this lately. I certainly cannot stop thinking about Yitzhak and his response. What kind of father was he and what kind would he have been if this had not taken place. If there is no Akedah do we see a different relationship between Jacob and Esau. Would there have been two equals in the eyes of the father or would there still have been sibling rivalry.

I wonder.

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