Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Our Legacy, Not Theirs

We are all very familiar with the story of the Akeidas Yitzchak.  It is the climax of Avraham Avinu's life, the greatest test he undergoes to demonstrate his belief in God and an example of self-negation that we can only yearn to emulate in our own lives.
Yet it is important to remember that there are two versions of the Akeidah floating around there.  There is ours and their is theirs.  In ours it is Yitzchak Avinu that is laid down on the altar on Mount Moriah.  In theirs it is Yishmael.  In both the father is about to sacrifice the son when God prevents him.  In both, the son becomes the founder of the future nation.
There's a billion of them and only a few million of us.  How do we know our version is correct?  After all, there are no corroborating accounts.  Avraham Avinu and his son stood alone on the mountain on that day.  Whose version is true?
The Akeidah is often presented as an example of a test which Avraham had to undergo but what we often forget is that Yitzchak Avinu was tested just as much.  As the Chazal and commentators remind us, Avraham was already an old man at the time while Yitzchak was still in his physical prime.  Had the son wished to prevent the father from fulfilling God's command he easily could have done so. But in the story there is not even a hint of a disagreement.  Yitzchak accepts what God has seemingly preordained for him and lies down on the altar.
Honestly, could one imagine Yishmael doing the same thing?  This is the man decribed by the Torah as pere adam, a wild ass of a man who would perpetually live in conflict with all his neighbours.  Could one imagine Yishmael meekly following Avraham Avinu's instructions and lying down on the altar without so much as a squack?
The answer might be: well since the story is there and they claim it's about Yishmael, then obviously he did.  But by remembering that the second test of the Akeidah was on the son, one can now easily rebut this.
The purpose of Yitzchak Avinu's quiet surrender to God's will was to instill a trait into our nation.  We have always been a people willing to end our lives to sanctify God's divine and holy name.  We have far too often, most recently last week in Itamar, demonstrated this.
Look at them now. They too have a trait instilled in them, it seems, quite similar to ours.  They have always been a people willing to end our lives to sanctify God's name.  This is not a nation that ever had the lesson of the Akeidah instilled within in.  There is no trace of the bravery of Yitzchak and the kindness of Avraham Avinu in them.
The Akeidah and its awe-inspiring lessons are our legacy and ours alone.  No amount of lies will ever change that or diminish the greatness of those kedoshim who have endured their own version of that event.


Bob Miller said...

As they are proven, consummate liars, their fairy tale about Yishmael's "akeidah" can be dismissed summarily.

JRKmommy said...

There's another take on the akeida: that it wasn't just about Abraham and Isaac's willingness to sacrifice and be sacrificed, but about the fact that they agreed to halt the sacrifice at the direction of the angel, and that human sacrifice was rejected by Judaism.

As shocking as the akeida story is to us today, human sacrifice wasn't that uncommon at the time. Thomas Chahill, for example, describes archaeological evidence of Celtic human sacrifice in "How the Irish Saved Civilization", and in particular, how remains of a man discovered in the peat of Lindow Moss clearly indicated that he was willing to be sacrificed.

Unfortunately, the idea that G-d does not want human sacrifice seems to be lost on suicide bombers and their supporters....