Message from Mt. Moriah - Part III: The Trial of Abraham - The Lonely Man of Love

32 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2013

See all articles by Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Institute of World Politics; International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto; Foundation for Law and Science Centers, Inc.

Date Written: January 7, 2013


In my prior essays on this subject, I focused on three overlooked messages of the Akeda (the binding of Isaac): the first being that Gd of the Torah of Judaism does not change his mind – thereby preventing later adepts from offering personal or political agendas of Gd’s wishes; the second relating to the aberrant use of the root word “Kum,” literally translated as 'arise' – which signals spiritual growth. I also proposed that the imaginary name of the locus of the challenge, Mt. Moriah, known at the time of Abraham as 'Salem' (and never referred to again in the Torah by that name), is an oblique reference to the fact that Gd chose this place to teach Abraham something, i.e. that Avraham's belief that he knows what Gd wants of him is mistaken.

In this essay, I propose that the text suggests that Abraham is enjoined to perfect himself on two grounds, i.e. to further refine his already manifest sense of Chesed (kindness) and to develop his nascent sense of Gvurah (generally defined as power, strength, rigour, restraint, law, fear of Gd – and self-control). I continue to demonstrate how the Akeda is a showcase for Abraham’s love of Gd, a theme I began in Part II, showcasing Abraham’s Chesed (from which Ahavat Hashem or Love of Gd derives). Thus, it is via the Akeda that Gd enables Abraham to become almost Gd-like in Chesed, while simultaneously teaching him that his actions on a personal inter-human basis – which derive from Gvurah (i.e. consideration of others) – need tikun or rectification.

In conclusion, I demonstrate that Avraham has mastered both aspects, culminating in his changing the site name to “God-is-Feared.” Finally, I explain and demonstrate that the name Gd selected for the site, i.e. Mori-Yah – which I initially demonstrated means the “Land where Gd is my teacher,” (as opposed to Mori-El, which would mean the same thing) – includes the message of what it is Gd is that teaching: namely actualizing and balacing Chesed and Gvurah i.e. Ahavat Shamayim and Yirat Shamayim, or that love of Gd must be balanced by love of one’s fellow human.

Keywords: akeda, binding of Isaac, test of Abraham, chesed, gvurah, kindness, fear, love of God, fear of God, Yishmael, Abraham, Isaac

JEL Classification: B3, B30, B31, D83, D84, D99

Suggested Citation

Billauer, Barbara P., Message from Mt. Moriah - Part III: The Trial of Abraham - The Lonely Man of Love (January 7, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Barbara P. Billauer (Contact Author)

Institute of World Politics ( email )

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Washington, DC
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+1 202-462-2101 (Phone)

International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto ( email )

Rua Dr. Roberto Frias
4200-464 Porto

Foundation for Law and Science Centers, Inc. ( email )

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Suite LL1
Washington, DC 20036
United States
972 54 344 6055 (Phone)

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