Sunday, October 06, 2019

"Thank you for your service. Goodbye," says God

Dr. Ora Horn Prouser, who's teaching my section of the first-year Context class, had something interesting to say about the nature of God's challenge to Avraham Avinu (Abraham Our Father) in ordering him to sacrifice his son Yitzchak (Isaac).  Her theory is that God wanted to know whether Avraham would challenge an unjust order.  If that was the test, Avraham failed.  There are three proofs, as Dr. Prouser pointed out.  The first is that an angel, rather than God, stopped Avraham from sacrificing Yitzchak.  The second is that Avraham's reward for almost sacrificing his son was nothing that God hadn't already promised to Avraham previously.  The third was that God never spoke to Avraham again.  Dr. Prouser sees God as having concluded that Avraham had reached the limit of his ability to develop morally.  Avraham is not punished for this moral limitation, but God doesn't have much to do with him after this incident.

Dr. Prouser pointed out that Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses Our Teacher) is, actually, punished for calling the people rebels and striking the rock while failing to credit God for the water that emerges from the rock--God takes away the privilege of entering the promised land.  Past service is not sufficient--if you fail Me now, you're out.

In similar fashion, said Dr. Prouser, Eliyahu haNavi (Elijah the Prophet) fails to respond to God's revelation in a manner satisfactory to God, so God tells him to cast his mantle of leadership on Elisha, and ends Eliyahu's life on earth.  Again, past service doesn't suffice.

Apparently, God has very high expectations.

What are your thoughts on Akeidat Yitzchak (The Binding of Isaac), which we read on the second day of Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year), or the story of Moshe or Eliyahu?  (Here's an old Akeidah post of mine for a little inspiration, I hope.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made that argument (with all three proofs) 9 years ago at my daughter's bat mitzvah.

Mon Oct 07, 02:02:00 PM 2019  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

You're ahead of me, then. I'd thought of the first and third proof, but the second proof hadn't occurred to me.

Tue Oct 08, 12:41:00 AM 2019  

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