Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Akidah

Study 8-20
Genesis 22:5-14
Abraham speaks with the servants
Abraham and Isaac go on together
Isaac asks about the offering
Abraham binds Isaac

V5. Stay here with donkey
Abraham saw the Devine presence.
With donkey. Servants didn't see the devine and were like donkeys
Donkey is about spiritual blindness.

S R Hirsch. This is where they separate themselves from others.
Theme of the story. True worship requires solitude.
Says to servants. Boy and I will go. Term for boy. Isaac was 37 years old but logic of the story holds him as younger.

Abraham & Isaac - Sculpture by George Segal. (another interesting sculpture in Tel Aviv Museum of Art )

Says to the servants we will return to you. Showing that Abraham knew that they would return.

Worship. Actual word is more like to bow but more like in respect. Prostrate on ground.
Prostration in worship. Shows up again. When buying the burial ground fornsarah. Sign of respect. Faces on the ground
Genesis 42. Joseph brothers. Book of Esther - People bowed to Haman. Mordechai refused. Other examples in Tanach. And in the psalm come let us prostrate and bend knee.
This was common until the middle ages. Maimonades say a worship standingnwith hands crossed over heart.
Signs of prostration today in service. In barchu, aleinu, the amidah, on shabbat.
Once a year traditional Jews still prostrate self on the high holidays. Rosh hashannah.

Velveteen rabbi blog entry ...
Malchuyot part of the Rosh Hashana service. Prostration is done. Can be a profound experience.
Melach. Acronym for Mind heart and body ... To pray with all. This is done in the Great Aleinu after reading the Torah story about Sarah and Hagar ... The beginning of the story...
Reform website... It is now beginning to talk about this... Some synagogues are starting to do this. There is debate starting on this topic
After Mordechai we do not bow to anyone but God. With the reform movement. Have we evolved to a point that we don't even bow to God?

Took wood off donkey and put on son and he took fire stone and knife. The dangerous items. Isaac carry wood is source for Jesus carrying the cross. Knife is a symbol of the akidah.
Chiam Guri poem. Heritage - pictures the akidah.
Heritage - Haim Gouri
The ram came last of all. And Abraham
did not know that it came to answer the
boy's question – first of his strength
when his day was on the wane.

The old man raised his head. Seeing
that it was no dream and that the angel
stood there – the knife slipped from his hand.

The boy, released from his bonds,
saw his father's back.

Isaac, as the story goes, was not
sacrificed. He lived for many years,
saw what pleasure had to offer,
until his eyesight dimmed.

But he bequeathed that hour to his offspring.
They are born with a knife in their hearts.

Isaac. Bequeathed this to his sons..they are born with that knife in their hearts. Lingering pain of the episode. We carry that knife with us.
End the two walked on together. Emphasis on their walking together. Theme what means.
SRH.. Sons assimilating ... Phrase occurs three times. Show all fathers and sons that must walk together to face difficult challenges. Bound by love even in different situations.

Isaac. My father. Abraham answers. Here I am my son.
Reassures Isaac that his father doesn't want to kill him.
Then he asks where is the lamb?
God will see to the lamb.
Rashi... God will see and select for himself... If not then Isaac will be the offering. Abraham is telling the truth.
Text doesn't talk about their feelings... Thus Midrash.
SRH. Isaac did not receive any Devine command. Only from his father. Isaac stands for this tradition of receiving the tradition as our heritage.
Again they walk on together. . . Even after the answer

Next verse. String of verbs. Arrive, arrange, bound, put on altar .... In silence.
Sarna - verb only once in bible. Aiyn kuf Dalet. This is where the name akidah comes from .

Peter Pitzele. Why binding is a brilliant name for the scene. This is the most intense moment in the story. That which binds us makes our bonds. A new bond between father and son. Freedom contrasts to Bondage... They work together.
Bonds hold things together... Story is about all types of binding..

Rabbi Norman Cohen. Modern Commentary - we are adept at sacrificing that which is important to us. Often we cannot hear the cry of the angel. We get so wrapped up in the task that we do not hear the cry... The need to listen.

Abraham says "my only son" .. Midrash criticizes Abraham for this because he has another son. However the law of the time may have clarified this because Sarah is the wife.
Story is about perception that changes over time. Before they see the beauty of the story but contemporary views focus on the trauma of it...
We now see it as Barbary. But then it was seen as Abraham giving up what was most important to him.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Binding Of Isaac Interpretations

Study 8-13
Genesis 22:1-6
Binding of Isaac

To see the lyrics to the Leonard Cohen song:
Against sacrifice of the children. Contemporary view relates to war. Insert lyrics.

Richard Friedman. Book – Commentary on the Torah
Contrast the Sodom and Gemorah questioning vs not questioning in the case of sacrificing Isaac...

Three interpretation.
1. Abraham obeys what God asks. In the case of S&G. He is not asked to do this. It was not a command
2. Speaks for others but not for his son because his son is different - it is too personal
3. Because of the discussion before. He learns that God knew what his thoughts were. No use in arguing.

Abrahams silence over Isaac is most effective as it saves the life of his son.

V 4-5. On the third day Pattern in Torah. Nachum Sarna. Significant distance or time.
Few examples
Gen 31-32. Jacob fled. Gen42. Jacob confined in guardhouse for three days. Exodus 3. Burning bush. Distance of three days. Ex 15 cross sea. Set out in wilderness 3 days. Ex 19:11. Be ready for the third day. Numb 10. March for three days. Joshua 1:11. Get provisions ready in 3 days cross. Jonah 2: in whale for 3 days. Then gets to Nineveh 3 days walk. esther5. Fast for three days...On the third day she appears. Many more...
Also in new Testament. Christians movement third day church based on this..

Significant biblical theme
Tuesday is a lucky day. In Yiddish. God says twice that it is good.
Torah given on the third day. Plants created on the third day. Physical and spiritual nourishment given on the third day.

Question. What was the purpose of the test? Abraham knew he would not need to sacrifice Isaac so what is the purpose of the exercise? Auerbach says it is to give us fodder for Midrash.

Why delay showing him the place? So they won't say God confused him suddenly and drove him insane. To give him time to consider what he was doing. It was not an impetuous act.
Eli Munk.
What happened on the three days... Debate with Satan... Satan tries to deter them and tempt them away from the journey. Munk says that the obstacles in your way are Satan trying to tempt you from your goal.

Debate on what date it happened. On Rosh Hashanah? On Yom Kippur? On Pesach - his birthday?

Hassidic Midrash. That his enthusiasm lasted all three days.

How does he know he is in the right place? Rashi. Saw a cloud attached to the top of the mountain... Sign of God is a radiant cloud. So he saw god on the mountain.

Eli Munk. Hamakom. In the place. Same place where Jacob rested and wrestled with God. Zohar. He sees the place where Jacob will lie down. He sees into the future.

Hassidic teacher. Saw God from far off. Not close as previous encounters. He feels farther away from God. Saw God going away from him.

There is a bit of Abraham in each of us...
He goes forward even if he is feeling that God is far away. This is the fate of people going through history.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Binding Of Isaac - Literary Style and Prep

Genesis 22:1-5
Binding of Isaac

Literary style
Leon Kass. Genesis narrative concerned with deeds rather than words. No clear vision of Abraham's psyche. Character comes from actions.
Book. Mimesis. Eric Auerbach. Ch 1 compares Homers Osessy to the Bible.
Detailed descriptions of actions in Homer with many adjectives. Vs biblical style is less vivid. It is less detailed and leaves more questions about the circumstances. Style is merely subject verb and gives no causality. Abrahams journey happens in a vacuum.

V3. Vayeshkem. Got up early. From shehem. Shoulder. Relates to loading the donkey.
Rashi. He rose early. He hastened to do the mitzvah. The righteous "hurry" to do mirador.

Zerizut. A trait. Eagerness or zeal. Enthusiasm. Be in a hurry to do a mitzvah.
Run to do even a minor mitzvah.
The reward of doing a mitzvah is a mitzvah.
Zerizut This is the power of all other positive traits. The ability to follow through.

Alan Mornes - mussar institute. (he runs). Seasonal affected disorder (sad). Winter.
Accustom yourself to respond immediately to act on your good impulses.

The fact that Abraham could sleep the night before... Implies his complete faith.
Chain of verbs. Got up , saddle ass, took boys, Split wood.
Rashi. He himself put the saddle on. Because love upsets the rule of normal conduct. Question if this refers to love of God or love of his son.
Question why he saddles the donkey , who brides the donkey?

David Kimkee. Not tell Sarah so she will not know or harm herself due to grief.
Saddle/Harness the ass..
Harnessed the material part his being so the spiritual part can be in control.

Took two young me and also Isaac. Kind of an afterthought so not to raise suspicion.

Who were the two young men?
Servants or maybe some identify the two as Ishmael and Eliazer. Ishmael comes back in Midrash.

A distinguished person should not go on a journey without two servant. If one needs to relieve himself there will always be someone to attend.

View of women
Four cases when they did their own "saddling" in Bible

Pharaoh saddled own Chariot to chase the slaves - Joseph when going to see father out of love

Balem when he went to curse Israelites. (Numbers) - Abraham when going to sacrifice Isaac

Split the wood for the offering. Christians interpret relating to Jesus carry cross.
Why split wood. Not know where going so need to take from a practical vantage. Why do self. To expedite and also not to imply anyone else un the incident.

When else splitting in Torah. Split of the sea. Same verb.
End of verse. Last of the verbs. He rose up and walked.
No hesitation. Sign of his strength and courage.
The text does not reflect on his emotions.