Vayeira – The Test

I. The Test 
You told me to sacrifice my son,
my beloved child
on whom our dreams and hopes,
both Yours and mine,
are centered.
I overrode my immutable love
for this long-awaited child,
to do Your will.
I will go through with this
to the end.
But will You remain silent
while Your son is sacrificed?
For he is Your son too.


In his book, Messengers of God, Biblical Portraits and Legends, Elie Wiesel describes the Akeida as a double-edged test. He says, ” God subjected Abraham to it, yet at the same time Abraham forced it on God. As though Abraham had said: I defy You, Lord. I shall submit to Your will, but let us see whether You shall go to the end…”

However, in Avraham Burg’s commentary, Very Near to You: Human readings of the Torah, Burg considers the possibility that the test was indeed Abraham’s test, but that he failed it. He interprets the fact that, only a few lines previously, God confides in Abraham (about Sodom, about Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael) and then, at the critical moment of the sacrifice, a messenger, an angel, is sent to stop Abraham. From the moment Isaac is bound, God never speaks to Abraham again. Burg construes God’s silence as anger at Abraham’s blind, uncritical willingness to slaughter his son. So here is the poem again, reflecting that test.


II. The Test 
I told you to sacrifice your son,
your beloved child
on whom our dreams and hopes,
both yours and Mine,
are centered.
You overrode your immutable love
for this long-awaited child:
could this be My will?
Will you go through with this
to the end?
Will you remain silent
and sacrifice your son?
For he is My son too.

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