Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
The key narratives of the Torah are there to teach us that G-d is the ultimate owner of all.
* * * In the ancient world, up to and including the Roman Empire, children were considered the legal property of their parents. They had no rights. They were not legal personalities in themselves. Under the Roman principle of patria potestas, a father could do whatever he wished with his child, including putting him to death. Infanticide was well known in antiquity. (It has even been defended in our time by the Harvard philosopher Peter Singer, in the case of severely handicapped children.) That, for example, is how the story of Oedipus begins, with his father Laius leaving him to die.
It is this principle that underlies the entire practice of child sacrifice, which was widespread throughout the pagan world. The Torah is horrified by child sacrifice, which it sees as the worst of all sins. It therefore seeks to establish, in the case of children, what it establishes in the case of the universe as a whole, the land of Israel, and the people of Israel. We do not own our children. G-d does. We are merely their guardians on G-d’s behalf.
Only the most dramatic event could establish an idea so revolutionary and unprecedented – even unintelligible – in the ancient world. That is what the story of the binding of Isaac is about. Isaac belongs to neither Abraham nor Sarah. Isaac belongs to G-d. All children belong to G-d. Parents do not own their children. The relationship of parent to child is one of guardianship only. G-d does not want Abraham to sacrifice his child. G-d wants him to renounce ownership of his child. That is what the angel means when it calls to Abraham, telling him to stop: “You have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.”
The binding of Isaac is a polemic against, and a rejection of, the principle of patria potestas, the idea universal to all pagan cultures that children are the property of their parents.
* * * Seen in this light, the binding of Isaac is now consistent with the other foundational narratives of the Torah, namely the creation of the universe and the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The rest of the narrative also makes sense. G-d had to show Abraham and Sarah that their child was not naturally theirs, because his birth was not natural at all. It took place after Sarah could no longer conceive. The story of the first Jewish child establishes a principle that applies to all Jewish children. G-d creates legal space between parent and child, because only when that space exists do children have the room to grow as independent individuals.
The Torah ultimately seeks to abolish all relationships of dominance and submission. That is why it dislikes slavery and makes it, within Israel, a temporary condition rather than a permanent fate. That is why it seeks to protect children from parents who are overbearing or worse.
Abraham was chosen to be the role model for all time of what it is to be a parent. We now see that the binding of Isaac is the consummation of that story. A parent is one who knows he or she does not own their child.
Adapted from “Covenant & Conversation,” a collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s parshiyot hashavua essays, published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem (www.korenpub.com), in conjunction with the Orthodox Union.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth since 1991, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently The Koren Sacks Rosh HaShana Mahzor (Koren Publishers Jerusalem).
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
It seemed that every time we flew cross-country to participate in a family simcha, we received virtually the same welcome. On one hand, it was as warm and heartfelt as could be from relatives and friends, who were genuinely overjoyed to see us after a prolonged absence.
In our story a couple of kids discover Chanukah within the walls of a gym.
Shemos Rabbah states that Yaakov transmitted the “secret of the redemption.”
Just as the moon waxes and wanes and then totally disappears from view before returning to the night sky, so, too, the Jewish people.
Question: Why do women cover their eyes when they light Shabbat candles?
People thronged from all over Israel to take advantage of this opportunity.
At about 4 a.m. on cold and damp autumn mornings in London, Dad would try to wake us in time for Selichot, the pre-Jewish New Year dawn prayers. As we heard Dad’s footsteps mounting the stairs, my brother and I would hide under our covers and mutter our displeasure at being disturbed.
In this week’s parshah Yaakov Avinu takes his entire family down to Mitzrayim. The Torah lists the family members who made this journey. On the list is Shimon’s son, Shaul. The pasuk refers to him as Shaul ben haCanaanis – the son of the Canaanis.
Chapter And Verse?
‘Has The Time For Slaughter Arrived?’
Question: I have noticed that some people stand during the Birkot Keriat Shema. I was always under the impression that one is supposed to sit for Shema and its berachot. Is there a source that allows one to stand during this part of the prayer?
The wedding was going full blast, with the joyful Jewish music playing. The sound of the violin awoke unfulfilled longings and triggered moisture in the eyes.
The family had reached deadlock.
According to the Sefer Yetzirah, each month is associated with a letter of the aleph-beis. Teves was formed by means of the letter ayin, which has a numerical value of seventy – a number that figures prominently in Judaism.
Development of a modern highway has unearthed the discovery of an Islamic period fountain in a private garden outside the richer ares of Old Ramla, near the airport.
There is a glimmer of hope in fighting corrupt elections in Israel, which is no worse than anywhere else but simply more obvious.
Eli Kwartler, Jewish Community of Amherst co-president, recalls his father reading Yiddish newspapers and discussing politics in Brooklyn delis.
Syrian opposition forces again prove Hezbollah is not invincible. They posted a video showing a direct hit near Damascus on a multi-story Hezbollah building, which collapsed like dominoes.
A naturalized American citizen who immigrated from Jordan in 1995 could be deported from the United States for lying about her conviction for the 1969 bombing of a Jerusalem supermarket, in which two Israelis were killed. Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 66, was arrested Tuesday in her suburban Chicago home on immigration charges and appeared in federal […]
Local elections in Israel are rarely a pretty sight, but the one Beit Shemesh Tuesday night takes this year’s trophy. False IDs and trashing ballots were the tip of the iceberg. By the way, Shas won.
If the effects of “global warming” today are going to be anything like those of the 3,200-year-old drought and cold wave that, according to research in the Kinneret, existed in the Middle East, watch out.
A PA terrorist fled his religious Jewish hostage after cutting off his sid locks in western Gush Etzion. Just as worrisome, the media almost totally ignored the incident. It might upset peace talks.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/the-art-of-gratitude/2011/11/12/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: