Thursday, November 6, 2014

Parsha: What Was the Purpose Of the Akaidah? Four Approaches

Rav Turetsky

Avraham’s actions at the Akaidah serve as a model for religious ambition and unwavering commitment to Hashem. Yet, many commentators ask why the Akaidah was necessary. God certainly knew Avraham would pass the test, so why put him through it? Why put Avraham through such an emotionally challenging experience if God already knew the result?

What follows are four approaches to the purpose of the Akaidah.

  1. Rashi (Breishit 22:1) cites one view in Chazal that the test was in response to the Satan’s questioning of Avraham’s righteousness. For him, it is possible the Akaidah clarified the greatness of Avraham in the eyes of the Satan.
  2. Rabbainu Bechai (ad loc) writes that the Akaidah taught the other nations an important religious lesson. God knew Avraham would pass it, but those in Avraham’s generation needed to learn the true demands of religious life. They needed to witness Avraham’s fear and love of God. In that sense, Avraham taught the world around him how dedicated one must truly be to the Divine.
  3. Radak (ad loc) offers the following answer. The primary purpose of the Akaidah was not to send a message to those within Avraham’s generation, as no one was present at the Akaidah to witness his actions and testify to his greatness. Instead, what Avraham did serves as a model for the Jewish people of Avraham’s tremendous love of Hashem. For Radak, Avraham’s actions have profound implications for his children, as they serve as an important lesson about Ahavat Hashem.[1]
  4. Ramban (ad loc) understands that the test was not for Hashem, but for Avraham. Hashem wanted Avraham to not just have reward for good intentions, but also for good actions. For him, tests are often less for the person administrating them as much as for the person taking them. One could argue that tests allow one to know his or her true capacity and ability. Until given the opportunity, one may never know what they are capable of accomplishing.
The Akaidah is one of the most influential events recorded in Chumash. With these mefarshim in mind, we see how it was able to influence Avraham, those around him, and his future decedents.

May we be Zocheh to live up to the ideals established by Avraham.

Shabbat Shalom!

[1] Many Mefarshim note additional ways in which Avraham’s actions at the Akaidah influenced his decedents. Mesech Chochmah (Breishit 22:14) cites Rambam’s view (Hilchot Gerushin  2:20) which he maintains implies that each Jew has a deep desire to perform the words of God. Mesech Chochmah suggests that the Akaidah is what established within the Jewish people that deep connection. 

No comments:

Post a Comment