Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Chayei Sarah: After these things (Kierkegaard and the Akeida)

The Akeida may have ended without Yitzchak being physically sacrificed, but the story is followed by 'after these things' Avraham's brother having many children, Sarah dying, Yitzchak dissapearing from the narrative. Neither Avraham and his son, nor Avraham and God speak to eachother 'after these things'

This week - Chayeh Sarah - we tried to tease out how the relationships between the main protagonists in the story - Avraham, Isaac, God, Sarah - changes following the Akeida.

In this context, we read four 'modern midrashim' by Danish 19th century theologian Soren Kierkegaard who describes Avraham as appraoaching the Akeida with fear and trembling, torn between the Divine command to sacrifice his son, and the moral command to refrain. He also touches on how the event effects the faith of Avraham and Isaac in God as well as their interpersonal relationship.

His four stories reveal a side to the Akeida hinted at by the text itself and some traditional commentaries, yet also touches on layers beyond them.

Other thinkers on the text included Bereshit Rabbah, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Aviva Zornberg, Elie Wiesel and Israeli poet Tet Carmi.

Click here for the source sheet and the audio recording.

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