Re: The Sacrifice of Isaac

Robert Klein (
Wed, 25 Dec 1996 21:30:30 +0200 (IST)

In TF 3:2 Bill Bickel quoted Moshe Genuth (TF V#2):
>>I think that tests are not without value if one knows one is being >tested.
>>As a simple example you might take basic training in the Army (at least
>>it's this way in Israel) - you know that everything that's happening is a
>>"simulation", that is, you're mind is being played with.

And responded:
>Very different thing: In Army training, you're learning to perform
>actions, not being tested on how you'd honestly react in a given
>The correct military analogy would be this:
>You're told that the soldier standing next to you is a traitor and must
>be shot. You're handed a loaded gun. There's a BIG difference between a
>willingness (in training) to say "bang" and a willingness (in reality)
>to perform the execution.

Mr. Genuth's analogy was right on. Mr. Bickel has erred in two major
features of his alternative. One, Hashem did not tell Abraham that Isaac
was a traitor or sinner or anything negative. Two, and most importantly,
in the context of "the tested knowing he's being tested", Mr. Bickel's
commanding officer needs to tell you that this is just a test of your faith
in the commanding officer, and that while the gun is indeed loaded, you can
rest assured that somehow the very innocent soldier standing next to you
will escape unscathed despite your best efforts. With these two emendations
Mr. Bickel's analogy can reflect the psychological reality of the akeidah,
if we are working on the assumption at all that Abraham knew for sure he was
being tested.

Robert Klein