Passing the test

Passing the test

I was thoroughly bemused by Andrew Silow-Carroll’s column “Put to the test” (Sept. 5), in which he discusses the akeda — the binding of Isaac. I believe that he completely missed the point of the story.

God determines what is good and what is bad, what is moral and what is not. God is the Creator and God created man as an act of kindness, so we can emulate His qualities and do good. The reason we consider murder of one’s children anathema is that God instilled His own morals and qualities in each one of our eternal souls. But Abraham realized that God was the ultimate arbiter of morality.  If He chose to ask of Abraham to sacrifice his beloved Isaac, then God knew what was best and what was for the good. Abraham’s personal feelings were not relevant to this main idea that is also central to Rosh Hashana and why we read this story at that time.

What Abraham accomplished by obeying God’s command, in effect, was to subjugate his own value system and judgments before those of God, recognizing that God is, in fact, our only King, Master of the Universe, and all those other monikers we call Him every day in our prayers. The nature of a divine test is to see whether a person can overcome human frailties and temptations and rationalizations in order to serve God unequivocally. For a human being to question God’s judgment and morality is the height of disrespect and  chutzpa. We are the creations and God is the Creator. We are the servants and God is the Master. We are the subjects and God is the King.

One more thing that irritated me to no end  about the article was the notion that Abraham somehow fell out of favor with God as evidenced by the fact that He no longer spoke to Abraham after the akeda. Again, the column missed the point. The reason God did not choose to speak with Abraham further after the akeda was that Abraham had fulfilled as much of God’s will as any human could possibly fulfill, and therefore, there was no further need to ask anything of him. God does not speak to people by way of conversation. He speaks to people to command them to do certain things, as messengers of God, Himself. What could God possibly ask of Abraham that he had  not already done for God? Nothing. Therefore, in contrast to your misbegotten notion that Abraham “fell out of God’s favor,” he actually was so high in God’s esteem that there was nothing more for God to say to him.

With all due respect, when you characterize God’s commandment to Abraham as “cruel,” you are demonstrating your own lack of faith in God and your lack of acceptance of God’s superior judgment. We can speculate all we want about how Abraham or Isaac or even Sarah might have felt about the akeda, but   ultimately, they became our religious icons and forefathers because they submitted themselves completely to God’s will and judgment and were humble enough to recognize that their responsibility as human beings was to  serve God and not to criticize Him.

Jessica Savitt

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