Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Avraham's Joy and Tears

Krum as a bagel
The posuk:

"And Avraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife."

The Midrash:

He stretches out his hand to take the knife, and his eyes are flowing with tears, and the tears fall on the eyes of Yitzchak from the pity of a father - nonetheless, the heart is joyous to do the will of his creator.

I heard a beautiful vort contrasting this Midrash to the famous Midrash citing the protest of the angels at kryias yam suf:

Your creations are drowing in the sea and they are singing songs of praise?

The answer to the angels' complaint is simple. Man, unlike angels, is capable of having conflicting emotions. Avraham avinu can carry out God's command with joy while crying tears of sadness over the death of his son. The Jews can sing songs of praise to God while recognizing the tragedy of the death of their enemies.

Here is where I make the painfully obvious connection to us moderns. The modern world makes us face difficult questions posed by science, history, morality, etc.... Yet we must understand that complexity is part of what makes us human. These questions shouldn't stop up from doing God's will with a joyous heart, nor do they make our religious acts any less pure. Indeed, Avraham's act was borne of conflict, yet is is the paradigmatic act of devotaion and sacrifice that we repreatedly cite to in asking for God's mercy.

Haloscan comments


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