I am up to the point where I will read the Akedah this evening. I hope to copy the near-chapter long Biblical story. It is with that in mind that I think of Jon Levenson’s claim that at one time Abraham and Isaac’s story was the focus of Pesach, until it became the focus of the even more important High Holidays. Of course, the High Holidays are now long since passed (this year they fell in September). However, this fact—the centrality of the Akedah to Jewish life (and an important fixture in both Christianity and Islam, too)—makes me hope that my class will add to both my knowledge and the synagogue’s.
Though Levenson—and I have mentioned this before—believed little good came to Jews that Christianity and Islam both have their own Akedah stories, I am interested in the opposite hypothesis. Tomorrow I will read F. E. Peters’ Children of Abraham, and soon afterwards I shall read Bruce Feiler’s Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths. Though I will probably not use it, I also received Louis Massignon’s Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr. I read about him in Levenson’s Inheriting Abraham.
I truly hope this is the century when humankind finds God again. That is why I hope to write about other religions besides Judaism. Though the central theme of my life is Jewish, sometimes I hear other chords and assonances. The God I hope we find is one that believes in peace and prosperity, and I believe even finding a solution to climate change should be addressed as though it had religious import. I know some of this sounds like a secular person could believe in (who is, at least in theory, against peace?), yet I believe that without a commitment to God, these other things are hollow.
I remember reading Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Prophets and God in Search of Man. He argues passionately for social justice in these books, but he is able to argue so persuasively because he believes so strongly in God. I believe that even the human desire for justice rings hollow if it is not rung in consonance with the human desire for faith. I probably will not go into this when I teach at my synagogue. Alright, I know I won’t. Yet I will try to speak of the Akedah as meaningful to three faiths.
I will still receive two more author’s books by mail:
Martin S. Jaffee
I know this Blog has been a little flat. I hope the next one is more interesting. Yet I do believe my work studying Abraham and the Akedah is important work. Nowadays the theme of faith and sacrifice are key to saving humanity’s soul. Nowadays finding that though religions differ, the need for faith is the same, is equally important.