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Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Sacrifice/Binding of Isaac versus the Prince William and Kate Gossip

Please trust me, this is really about the Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week, וַיֵּרָא Vayaira, "And the LORD appeared," concentrating on the last part, which is known as "the Sacrifice of Issac," even though Issac, Abraham's beloved son doesn't die. The Biblical text can be found in Bereishit, Genesis  Chapter 22.

Frequently when I mention something about this Biblical narrative, I stress that Issac didn't die. It bothers me so much when I hear people refer to it as the "sacrifice" of Issac. This is the rather incomprehensible story of G-d ordering Abraham to take the son who G-d gave to him and Sarah strictly for the purpose of continuing the line so that Abraham's descendants would be a great nation. Child sacrifice is forbidden by Jewish Law, and Issac was in his thirties, though still single when this happens. Abraham ties the cooperating Issac and is about to slaughter him when at the very last second, he's told to stop.

Now, remember that this is not referred to as Abraham's story. He's not in the given title. And the Hebrew for it is עֲקֵדַת יִצְחָק  Akeidat Yitzchak, The Binding of Issac. The "binding" here isn't a lesson in sailors knots. I see this as a test for Issac more than a test for Abraham.

The life of a public leader isn't easy. It wasn't enough that Issac was born to Abraham and Sarah and raised by them. He had to accept that his life wouldn't be a normal, easy one. None of his time would be personal time. Every move and every decision would have ramifications for centuries, millennia, forever, since the Jewish People is eternal.

And what has this to do with Prince William and his wife Kate? There have been articles on yahoo that he has announced that he doesn't want the throne, certainly not soon. He prefers that his father be king. Prince William and Kate prefer living like ordinary people. The past few months, when Kate has been suffering from severe "morning sickness," she did what many people do, she took her toddler with her and went to her parents for help. She prefered that to staying in their palace apartment and being cared for by servants. Money isn't their problem. Kate was raised by her parents, and in a time of difficulty, that's where she wanted to be. That is not the way of the British royal family, or at least it hasn't been yet.

Prince William was and is tied to his duties, and the gossip columnists had plenty to write about. I honestly feel sorry for him. He's between a rock and a hard place, between his grandmother, the Queen of England, and his beloved wife, pregnant with their second child.

Back to our forefather Isaac. It was only after Isaac had passed the test and allowed himself to be fully bound to his task leading G-d's people that Abraham sent his trusted servant to find a wife for him. That story we'll read about next week...

Shavua Tov
Have a Wonderful Week

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