Taste of Hebrew title graphic


February

(The) Akedá
(Ashkenazi:  Akéyde)
'the binding of Isaac'


The Akeda, literally 'binding', as described in the Book of Genesis is the climax of Abraham's journey of faith. On Mount Moriah he makes ready to go through with God's command to sacrifice Isaac, his and Sarah's only son -- but learns at the last moment that the whole thing was a test.   God does not seek human sacrifice.
The memory of the Akeda is woven into Jewish life, into the prayers and most famously into the ceremony of blowing the shofar (ram's horn) on the New Year. And in modern secular Israeli writing, a kind of Akeda trauma, repressed, surfaces again and again.

The synagogue management decided to fire the beadle.  But they were afraid to tell him. So they asked the rabbi to tell him. But the rabbi refused.
     "Why, rabbi?" they asked. "You're the rabbi and he's just a beadle."
     The rabbi replied: "Don't you recite daily the chapter about the Akeda?  
How does God command Abraham to sacrifice his son?  He tells him Himself.  But how does he command him to stop?  Through an angel! But then why didn't God send an angel at the outset? Because the angel would have said:  'If You want to kill a Jew, O Lord, do it Yourself...'


By kind permission of Oxford University Press,
publishers of The Joys of Hebrew by Lewis Glinert.



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Last Modified February 12, 2006