Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Unbinding Isaac

Posted by shiduri on August 17, 2006

Binding Isaac Abraham

Unbinding Isaac

A Psychoanalytic Interpretation of the Binding of Isaac

“In a moment of divine perversity that has shocked Bible readers over the last couple of millennia, G’d abruptly orders Abraham to sacrifice young Isaac on an alter of fire… Perhaps even more perversely, Abraham complies with the divine command to sacrifice his son without a single word of protest.”

— Jonathan Kirsch

“Why would Abraham even think about doing such a thing?” sixth-grader Brian Berk asked upon hearing the story of the Akedah – the Binding of Isaac – one morning during Sunday School at Temple Israel in Alameda, California. “Abraham didn’t even ask G’d why he was supposed to kill his son!” “Yeah, it’s just so WRONG” Whitney Rafalaf chimed in with a tremor of outrage, “The story doesn’t make any sense!” As a teacher, I am thrilled when my students recognize some of the broader and oftentimes more troubling issues within the biblical narrative, and attempt to grapple with the bigger ethical quandaries. Having heard the story of the Akedah, ,so many times, however, both in Sunday School and on Rosh HaShana – the Jewish New Year — when it is read aloud to the congregation, I had become inured to its more disconcerting content. I had completely forgotten how horrified I was when I first heard it as a child. After a moment of reflection, I realized that even without embellishment, the barebones narrative is disturbing and should be examined…


WARNING: The following PDF may cause some readers to foam at the mouth… (But thats what makes it fun)





12 Responses to “Unbinding Isaac”

  1. Oyster said

    Image credit: http://www.templeinstitute.org/gallery_6.htm

  2. shiduri said

    oyster, i LOVE the image you chose — you are our leader in all things 🙂

  3. mishgolden said

    “WARNING: The following PDF may cause some readers to foam at the mouth… (But thats what makes it fun)” … others just shake their heads in disbelief…

  4. Oyster said

    hehe, and why is that MG? C’mon, give, give! 😉

  5. Sheesh, blame the victim much? Btw, I loved the “just kidding” quote.

  6. shiduri said

    hey, mishgolden – if you want to disagree then disagree! you don’t need to just ‘shake your head’ disapprovingly 🙂

  7. mishgolden said

    Oh, I don’t know nearly enough about psychoanalysis (nor the Bible, frankly) to offer a strong counter-argument… But it does feel rather… implausible? unintuitive?

  8. Oyster said

    MG wrote: I don’t know nearly enough about

    Oh please! Since when has that stopped anyone in the blogosphere? 🙂

  9. mishgolden said

    Heh 🙂
    Maybe that’s why I don’t write a blog.

  10. Oyster said

    Heh, maybe that’s why you should start writing for this one. 😀

  11. mishgolden said

    Thanks for invitation, Oyster; I’m flattered. But I can’t really commit to posting regularly; plus, since I’m not in the Bay Area, it makes a bit less sense to have me as a writer.
    That said, commenting as I do is also a way for me of participating in this blog.

  12. Oyster said

    We could always use a correspondent! 😀 But seriously, we welcome your regular comments. Ya hear that, you readers who never comment? YOU ARE WELCOME! WRITE! WRITE! 🙂

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