Aruba and the Binding of Isaac

A Sermon for Rosh HaShannah Day 5777

By Rabbi Pamela Frydman

(This talk is also linked to the website of Congregation P’nai Tikvah.)

Today we read the story that describes how Abraham bound his son Isaac on the altar and an angel intervened and said, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not do this! Do not sacrifice your son!”[1]

Judaism is full of paradox. If Judaism was not a religion of paradox, it would not be relevant to human life, because human life is, in and of itself, full of paradox. Let me give you an example. Say you are a lawyer and you are not Jewish, but you work for a Jewish firm and all the Jewish lawyers in the firm are taking off for the high holy days. And the Jewish holidays are paid days off for the staff in your firm. So you use a few of your vacation days and you string together your vacation days with your paid days off for Rosh HaShannah, Yom Kippur and the weekend in between and you and your spouse plan a getaway to the Caribbean.

Now that might not happen in Las Vegas, but it did happen in New York and the non-Jewish lawyer was caught up short when he found himself in court with a Jewish judge who wanted to schedule a hearing for a date between Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur.

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