Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Vayera 5777

Every time we read the story of the Akedah, the binding of Yitzhak, more questions emerge. Two questions are of particular interest to me this year. The first concerns Avraham. When God informs him of the plan to destroy Sodom, Avraham challenges God: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth act justly?” (Genesis 18:25) But when God asks him to sacrifice his long-awaited son, Avraham doesn’t protest, in word or in deed. He silently gathers the necessary materials and embarks on the journey.

My second question is about the role that Sarah, Yitzhak’s mother, plays in the Akedah narrative. Or, should we say, the lack of role she plays, for she is entirely absent from the Torah’s telling. Did she know what was happening? If so, did she consent, or did she protest as her husband did about Sodom?

It is not convincing to say that Sarah’s voice is muted because women’s voices are always muted in the Torah. She speaks forcefully about Hagar and Yishma’el in the previous chapter. We hear her voice when she senses her son being threatened. Did God leave her in the dark knowing that she would not have submitted herself to God’s will?

On Shabbat morning, we’ll study a modern midrash about the Akedah, in which not only does Sarah have a voice, but a moral conscience on par with her husband’s on the subject of Sodom.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi David Wise