Re: The Sacrifice of Isaac

Shmuel Arons (shmuela@cc.huji.ac.il)
Thu, 2 Jan 1997 14:35:57 +0200 (IST)

To add my two cents to the discussion: (and at the risk of repeating what
may have already been stated by someone else) perhaps the test was really at
the end of the ordeal. This to say, the test was in obeying the command
_not_ to carry through the sacrifice.

Many people have commited human sacrifice all throughout the ages to all
kinds of idols and ideals. All believed to be hearing a "higher calling",
be it Divine, political, or whatever. Many of their victims, like Isaac,
were willing to die for the cause. The difference here was that at the very
last moment, G-D changes His orders -- and Abraham and Isaac immediately
obey. Lesser people, at the moment of highest emotion and commitment, would
have given in to the temptation to ignore that second command and "carry
through". The sacrificer will not be denied his sacrifice and the victim
his chance to die gloriously.

Abraham came to sacrifice Isaac only to serve Hashem. His will was G-d's
Will. If it's the Al-mighty's Will that Isaac be an offering, then it is
Abraham's will (and Isaac's, too). But the instant that G-d reveals His
will differently, Abraham responds immediately. He's there to serve Hashem,
not himself. That's the difference between Abraham and others. The very
moment that Abraham was about to willfully slice his son's throat, speaking
now about the last moment before cutting, he received the order to not cut.
And Abraham _immediately_ put the knife down. (I suggest mentally picturing
this.) Total obedience. Total commitment to G-d's Will. A complete
disregard for himself, even if he appears ridiculous. This is Abraham's
greatness.

Another thought: victims to causes are often happy to die. The Akeida
didn't finish with the burning of the ram. It continued all of Isaac's
life. All his days his status was that of a living korban, and thus was
prevented from leaving Eretz Yisrael (much as korbanot could not be removed
from Jerusalem).

The point: It's relatively easy to die Kiddush Hashem(for the
santification of G-d's name).Living Kiddush Hashem is what was expected
from Isaac -- and from us.