Abraham is commanded, perhaps, at least according to many commentators, with his ultimate test: to bring Isaac as a sacrifice. It is Abraham’s test. Isaac is, to the Almighty, a bystander.
But not so to his father. Walking to Moriah together, Abraham has Isaac shoulder—quite literally—the items needed for the alter.
Everyone has a part to play.
When government puts a burden of some kind on its citizens, the first thought is that they shouldn’t ask citizens to then contribute to make that burden feasible for government. Asking such is a bit like the apocryphal explanation of chutzpah where the condemned begs the court for mercy.
But Abraham, by asking Isaac to carry some wood, and Isaac no less in his acquiescence, both show us that sometimes this is appropriate. Sometimes the populace has a responsibility to help make something happen, even it it’s painful for them. Sometimes that’s what society requires, and what citizenship means.
Words to consider. Ideas to ponder. Politics and the parsha.
Howie Beigelman, formerly of Springfield, NJ, is Executive Director of Ohio Jewish Communities. He works at the intersection of Jewish communal service and nonprofit advocacy. Follow him on Twitter @howielb
By Howie Beigelman