July 19, 2024
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July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

To the Editor:

Jeanette Friedman’s Op-Ed suggesting that perhaps Avraham failed his “test” with Yitzhak raises the question but omits the answer. Avraham had to cut off all ties with his past to follow God (the first lekh lecha) and then he is asked to cut off all ties to his future (the second lekh lecha) by offering his son up as a sacrifice, or at least be willing to do so since the verse does not specify actually slaughtering him. During the three-day journey there is no recorded dialogue between father and son. We can only imagine Avraham’s internal struggle. “How can God promise me a future through Yitzhak and then ask me to give it up?” God does not lie, despite Kierkegaard’s teleological suspension of the ethical premise. The ultimate belief is that which is not logical, hence the difference between knowledge and belief. Avraham believed that despite what logic might dictate, God would not go back on His Word and all would be well. That is why he told Yishmael and Eliezer “We will return.” This belief is what theologians call the leap of faith. Yitzhak as well understood what was being asked of them, and after Avraham worked all this out in his head and explained it to his son, “They went on their way together.” It was a triumph of belief and ethics. Whatever psychic harm it may have engendered is another topic altogether.

Rabbi Wallace Greene
Fair Lawn, NJ

 

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