Sedra of the week: Vayera

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Sedra of the week: Vayera

Rabbi Boruch M Boudilovsky looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

As Abraham ascended the mountain on his frightening journey to the binding of Isaac, he learned that faith demands complete
surrender and self-denial. 

Service of God is not intended to benefit the worshipper. On the contrary, it can sometimes impose unimaginable suffering on all levels; physical, emotional and intellectual. 

The model of faith that the Akedah [the binding] inspires is one used by human beings to be obedient, disciplined, and humble, rather than serve their own interests. 

What did Abraham learn and understand at the peak of the mountain? As he descended, what did he now know that he did not know before? 

Abraham learns that the same God who demands sacrifice, submission and surrender, also places restrictions upon them. 

Life can never be taken or harmed in the service of God. Self-denial is
a religious value only to the point that it doesn’t damage life itself.
The sacred value of life and the prohibition of murder in the service of God are established as a foundational principle in the Akedah for Abraham and his followers to learn and exemplify. 

Righteousness, as shaped by the teachings of the Akedah and the Abrahamic faith, is a combination  of submission to God and reverence to life. When one is prepared to submit to the perceived will of God by undermining the sanctity of life, one violates the teaching of the Akedah. 

On the other hand, when the value of human life is appreciated while submission to God is forgotten, the legacy of the Akedah is abandoned. 

The Akedah, when studied in its entirety, advances an exemplary model of faith in which God is served and life is sanctified. 

This model does not justify violence as part of worship, but instead submission to noble activity. 

  •  Rabbi Boruch M Boudilovsky serves Young Israel of North Netanya

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