Hasidism and the Akedah

By Shaul Magid

Josh Rolnick, The Sh'ma Institute, September 2011

In this article the author offers three brief approaches to the Akedah from three different Hasidic masters, who argue that their interests are not in the problematics of the story but in using the story for different ends. Largely focusing on Hebrew scripture as its foundation for presenting its views, Hasidic literature views the Akedah as a template for worship. While most modern readers critically view this story from a Kantian perspective -- how a benevolent God who forbids murder could command human sacrifice and how Abraham could be a model for humankind if he is willing to kill his son, even for God -- many Hasidic masters seem uninterested in these questions. They generally do not focus on what we might call the "ethical" implications of the story. In some way, the story is itself superfluous; like other biblical episodes, it is merely an occasion to illustrate a dimension of Hasidic piety. Unlike classical biblical exegesis, Hasidic literature is not primarily focused on solving problems in scripture. Rather it uses scripture to promote its agenda.

Topic: Hasidim, Faith, Prayer, Belief, Jewish Text, Chasidim, Hasidism

Name of Publication: Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas

Editor: Berrin, Susan

Volume/Issue: Vol.42/no.682

Page Number(s): 9-10

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Magid, Shaul. Hasidism and the Akedah. Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas. Josh Rolnick, The Sh'ma Institute. September 2011: 9-10. http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=12866


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