Sunday, August 21, 2005

Akedah

ABRAHAM: One man tempts another, because he knoweth not what is in the heart of his neighbor. But Thou surely didst know that I was ready to sacrifice my son!

GOD: It was manifest to Me, and I foresaw it, that thou wouldst withhold not even thy soul from Me.

ABRAHAM: And why, then, didst Thou afflict me thus?

GOD: It was My wish that the world should become acquainted with thee and should know that it was not without good reason that I have chosen thee from all the nations. Now it has been witnessed unto men that thou fearest God.

....

ABRAHAM: I will not leave this altar until I have said what I have to say.

GOD: Speak whatsoever thou hast to speak.

ABRAHAM: Didst Thou not promise me Thou wouldst let one come forth out of mine one bowels, whose seed should fill the whole earth.

GOD: Yes.

ABRAHAM: Whom didst Thou mean?

GOD: Isaac.

ABRAHAM: Didst Thou not promise me to make my seed as numerous as the sand of the sea-shore?

GOD: Yes.

ABRAHAM: Through which of my children?

GOD: Isaac.

ABRAHAM: I might have reproached Thee, and said, O Lord of the world, yesterday Thou didst tell me, In Isaac shall they seed be called, and now Thou sayest, Take they son, thine own son, even Isaac, and offer him for a burnt-offering. But I refrained myself, and I said nothing. Thus mayest Thou, when the children of Israel commit trespasses and because of them fall upon evil times, be mindful of their father Isaac, and forgive their sins and deliver them from suffering.


A Midrashic dialogue, quoted in Emil Fackenheim, Encounters Between Judaism and Modern Philosophy Basic Books (New York: 1973)65-67. Fackenheim discusses how this approach to Abraham differs from that found in Kierkegaard.

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