It has been said that the pivotal moment in our tradition’s history was when Avraham began to negotiate with God over the fate of the righteous people in Sodom. “Far be it from You to do such a thing like this, to kill virtuous with wicked…far be it from You. Will the judge of all the earth not do justice? (Genesis 18:25) But if this is such a pivotal moment, why, in the following two episodes involving his sons, does Avraham not lift up his voice in protest?
When God sides with Sarah and her demand that Hagar and Yishma’el be banished, Avraham wakes up early to send them off (21:14). When God tells Avraham to sacrifice Yitzhak, Avraham wakes up early to embark on the journey (22:3). Instead of protesting, he seems almost eager to acquiese.
We might have expected Avraham to question God, if not to challenge God outright, in response to these instructions to tear apart his family. And if we argue that he only spoke up in defense of Sodom because his nephew, Lot, lived there, why does he not try to protect his own sons?
It’s not by accident that these narratives are juxtaposed, but it certainly is ironic that they are. On Shabbat morning, we’ll try to derive some lessons about Avraham’s relationship with God, and perhaps some thoughts about why people protest today, and the best way for them to do so.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise