Vayeira – Abraham at the Altar

Abraham at the Altar
When he heard God’s call
to spare his son,
Abraham cried, “I swear,
I will not leave this altar
save I say what’s in my heart!”
And God adjured him, “Speak!”

And Abraham demanded,
“Did You not pledge
that Isaac’s seed
would fill the world?”
And God replied, “I did!”

Then Abraham said,
“I could have reproached You,
Lord of the world,
for yesterday’s pledge
You revoked today –
and yet I spoke no word.”

“So promise me now,
when my children and theirs
act counter to Your will,
You too will hold Your peace
and pardon them their sins!”

And the Lord of the world proclaimed,
“Your children will stray
in time to come
and I will sit in judgment.
Let them retell this tale,
sound the ram’s horn
and I must then forgive.”

The profoundly disturbing questions which arise out of the episode of the Binding of Isaac have provoked passionate discussions over the centuries. In the Midrash, the theme of the Akeda occupies as important a place as the Creation and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The Midrash on the Akeda brings many scenarios attempting to imagine and explain the enigmatic actions of the protagonists. Abraham at the Altar is a rendering of one such Midrash.


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