Re: The Sacrifice of Isaac

Andy Kohlenberg (
Fri, 3 Jan 1997 00:37:41 +0200 (IST)

In TF vol 3 Issue 4 Yosey Goldstein refers to the following observation:
>In Torah Forum v2 Issue 88 asked: "Why is it that no one
>seems to take Abraham at his word? First he tells his servants that he and
>Isaac will return. Then he tells Isaac that Hashem will provide the ram.
>Why not take him literally?

Yosey Goldstein then comments:
>If one were to see what Rashi has to say on this the answer is clear. Rashi
>comments on Avrohom's statement that "he said a prophecy and did not know
>that he said a prophecy" In our vernacular one could say he he had a slip
>of the tongue. In simple terms, Avrohom did not MEAN to say WE will return,
>he meant to say *I* will return. It would seem from Rashi's explanation
>that G-D made him say "WE" to tell everyone else that Yitzchock would not
>be killed.

I have all of my printed versions of Rashi open in front of me (Chavelle,
Berliner, and that printed in the Torah Temima Chumash) and I cannot find
where Rashi says that Avraham, "said a prophecy and did not know that he
said a prophecy ." On the verse, "and we shall return to you" Rashi simply
says, "he prophecied that they would both return".

It is true that Rashi's source for this interpretation in B'reshit Rabba
56:4 implies that this was a slip of the tounge and not a statement of
belief or intent (see commenary of R' Moshe Mirkin). However, it is
important to note that Rashi does not highlight this aspect. In fact, Rashi
neglects to mention that Avraham's prophecy that Issac would return alive
was a slip of the tounge.

It is therefore quite reasonable to suggest that, according to Rashi,
Avraham had some significant level of "awareness" that his son would survive
the ordeal, even though he had every intent to slaughter him as a sacrifice
to G-d.

Andy Kohlenberg
Andy & Roochie Kohlenberg