'The Son You Love:' A D'var Torah on Parshat Vayera
6 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2017 Last revised: 17 Nov 2022
Date Written: August 9, 2017
The typical question commentators ask about the Akedah (the binding of Isaac) is whether, in Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac at God’s command, he passed God’s test of faith, or spectacularly failed it. That is a big question, but it is not the only question, or perhaps even the best question about the Akedah. This talk argues that Abraham actually failed his test long before the Akedah, long before God called him to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah. He failed his test by expelling Ishmael and Hagar. The talk explores the complex relationship between the expulsion of Ishmael and the near-death of Isaac. And it draws as one of its broader lessons a distinct Jewish duty to remain universal monotheists, tribal particularists, and family loyalists, all at once, even when those three categories do not entirely match up.
Keywords: Akedah, Binding of Isaac, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, monotheism, particularism, Søren Kierkegaard, Emmanuel Levinas,
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