- Irrational Laws?
- Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: I have a question. In one of the articles on your web
site you mention the Ibn Ezra who says (Shemos 20:1) that if a
commandment goes against rationality then we cannot accept it but must
explain it some other way. I was wondering how this can fit with God's
commandment to Avraham to sacrifice his son. How could Avraham have
accepted this commandment at face value if it goes against
rationality. It is no worse than the verse the Ibn Ezra brings down of
"U'maltem es orlas levavchem".
- Mesora: Your question is very
- There is one distinction I would make. Regarding the Ibn Ezra, if a
command FOR ALL JEWS would exist as "u'maltem", taken
literally, "cut out your hearts", this would cause the end
of Jewish people, a direct contradiction that Jewish people should
exist to perfect themselves. Additionally, the second half of that
verse reads, "and your necks shall no longer be stiff". This
means that the command of "circumcising the foreskins of your
hearts" must result in an improvement in man's nature, where he
is no longer stubborn. Clearly, the command of "circumcising the
foreskins of your hearts" is not a directive to kill ourselves,
but rather to improve our ethics - to eradicate our stubborn nature in
connection with Torah adherence.
- A command to Abraham to slay his son doesn't contradict anything.
You might say it contradicts God's very promise to make Abraham's seed
as numerous as the stars and the sands. Perhaps Abraham's greatness is
testified by his silence when commanded he slaughter his son. Abraham
did not feel God must rely on Isaac to achieve His goals of populating
Abraham's seed. There was no contradiction in Abraham's mind. Abraham
knew that God's capabilities are boundless. Abraham also felt ignorant
of how such a command would be a good, and didn't allow his ignorance
to present a question on God's abilities. He therefore selected to
follow God's decree and attempt to slaughter Isaac.
- This last idea is not my own, I heard it from a teacher.