Thursday, November 16, 2006

I am the perfect Jew

Harley and I just read this blog post by Jewish Philosopher. In the course of which he says: "Even if God would command me to slaughter my own precious son, I would be obligated to do so, as indeed Abraham was willing to slaughter Isaac at God’s command (Genesis 22)." Which is intense. Even more so are the comments, an anonymous commentor says that: "Either you are lying or you have a monstrous nature just like the concept of your god is monstrous." To which Jewish Philosopher responds: "And you, my little Anonymous, have no concept of loyalty or discipline. Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die."

Harley: What? There is all sorts of stuff in the bible that we don't follow.
Me: No there isn't. I follow everything in the bible.
Harley: Liar.
Me: Hey, I have an altar in my living room, I sacrifice stuff all the time. The odor is pleasing to G-d*. But don't worry in my incense mixture I make sure not to add honey. Cause that makes it invalid**.

*NUMBERS 15:16 make a freewill offering, or at your fixed occasions, producing an odor pleasing to the LORD

**There is a paragraph recited during the Saturday morning Mussaf (additional) service that comes directly after the prayer Ein Kelokeinu (there is none like him) that gives the directions for making the biblical spice mixture. One of the requirements is that honey not be added, or the mixture is invalidated.


Anonymous said...

What's always bothered me about Vayera is that Avraham is praised for questioning G-d when it came to Sodom and Gemora, but then later in the parsha Avraham is praised for being willing to sacrifice Yitzchak. Which is it? Should you question G-d or follow his instructions. You can't be praised for both.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Anonymous said...

Anonymous makes an excellent point... one that has never occurred to me before. Perhaps the distinction lies in intent. If Avraham had questioned G-d's command to sacrifice Yitzchak, he would have been at least partially motivated by a desire to avoid tremendous personal pain and suffering. In contrast, his pleas for Sodom and Gemora were purely selfless.

Aunt L. said...

Somewhere I have an essay I wrote about this that is certainly too long and probably too boring to post, but in short, I think the sacrifice story is widely and wildly misunderstood, by nearly everyone. G-d's test is not a test of obedience, but rather a test of FAITH. Abraham knows, because G-d has told him, that the nation of Israel will be established through Isaac. Va-yera, Gen. 21:12. This, of course, will be impossible if Isaac is dead. So what G-d is testing is not whether Abraham is willing to sacrifice his son, but rather whether Abraham trusts G-d enough to know that following His instructions will not lead to invalidation of G-d's promise and unbearable catastrophe. And Abraham DOES trust G-d to get him out of this somehow. He says to the servants, "The boy and I will . . . worship and we will return to you." Gen. 22:5. He uses WE. (My Hebrew is not great but I am pretty sure that's "na-shuva" means "we will return.") Abraham trusts that God will provide the sheep, and/or change his mind, or bring Isaac back to life, or something. He has learned from the Sodom and Gomorrah incident that G-d is just and does not destroy the innocent. Seen that way, Abraham's willingness to follow the instruction is not a monstrous willingness to sacrifice his son for G-d, but rather a demonstration of absolute faith and trust in G-d's goodness. Still bizarre to our eyes, but a whole lot less outrageous.