SUBJECTIVE VS. OBJECTIVE KEYS TO THE BOOK OF JOB
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beyond moral comprehension, but God’s final instruction to untie Isaac corroborates our faith in a moral interaction. Inasmuch as the entire episode was a test (nisayon), the climactic resolution, from the Divine perspective, was in Abraham’s readiness to fulfill its directive.But what about from Abraham’s perspective? How could Abraham countenance child sacrifice? Immanuel Kant. to whom the imperatives of universal morality are absolute, condemns Abraham and argues that the Patriarch should have doubted the authenticity of the call. The Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard sees in the Akedah evidence that faith can sometimes make demands that go beyond morality; the doctrine of the “teleological suspension of the ethical.”609 We demarcate this “sometimes.”
Samson Raphael Hirsch points out that while it was God Himself who gave the initial directive of sacrifice, one angel alone was sufficient to countervene the directive in this case.
If an angel had told him to sacrifice his son, he might not have believed him, because such an order was in utter contrast to everything God had told him in general, and especially in connection with his son, Isaac. But in order to refrain from sacrificing his son, it was enough to send an angel. For that purpose, and to explain the whole original commandment as being a test . . .no extraordinary revelation was needed. This fitted in fully with everything Abraham knew of God.610
Eliezer Berkovits (after Rashi) writes as follows:
When God gave Abraham the command to sacrifice his son, Isaac, he said to him: “Koch na eth bincha,” which does not mean as usually translated, “Take now thy son.” As has been pointed out in the Talmud (T. B. Tractate Sanhedrin 89b). the Hebrew word na indicates a request.611
Berkovits says the request was asking Abraham not to fail God. But perhaps the entire Akedah was a request and not a com-
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609 See Spero, Morality, Halakha and the Jewish Tradition, p. 93.
610 Hirsch, Timeless Torah, p. 51.
611 Berkovits, “Prayer,” in Stitskin, Studies in Torah Judaism, p. 182.
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