I recently had the opportunity to try my hand at writing my own midrash, my own creative textual interpretation, about the Akeidah or Binding of Isaac. As someone who connects to Judaism primarily through text, the chance to add my voice in such a defined way, in a form that has been practiced for (at least) 2,000 years in the Jewish tradition, was humbling. I learned a lot about my own thought process moving from a sacred text to the ways in which it most resonated with me at that time. I also gained some insight into the importance of the citations that pepper midrashim, both classical and modern. In my own attempt to fashion my midrash after the classical form, I imbued a lot of significance into the choice of verses that I quoted, and I imagine that this is even more true of classical midrashim, whose authors were considerably more fluent in the language of Torah than I am.
Here is the midrash – I hope that you find it meaningful as a conversation starter and a point of reflection. I have included the citations in the English, as I find the Hebrew to be cleaner without them. The English is just a first attempt at a translation.
וימת יצחק על פני אברהם אביו
׳קח נא את בנך את יחידך אשר אהבת את יצחק.׳
!?ולמה לא צווח: ׳השפט כל הארץ לא יעשה משפט׳
.מעשה אבות סימן לבנים
כתיב: ׳וימת הרן על פני תרח אביו׳
וכתיב: ׳ויקח תרח את אברהם בנו ואת לוט בן הרן…ללכת ארצה כנען׳
וכתיב פה: ׳וישכם אברהם בבקר…ויקח…את יצחק…ויקם וילך אל המקום אשר אמר לו האלוהים׳
.מה שם מדובר בלקיחה בעל כרחו, אף כאן
?ואיה תרח אביו ללמוד לו מוסר
?הלא הוא עוד חי ששים שנה אחרי הולד לו את אברהם בנו
.תרח עדיין בחרן, שנוא מאברהם על אודות הצלמים
.ולא היה לאברהם על מי לסמוך חוץ מאלוהים
ובסוף: ’וישב אברהם אל נעריו…וישב אברהם בבאר שבע׳
.לא היה לאברהם לא אב ולא בן
And Isaac Died On The Face Of His Father Abraham
“Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love.” (Gen. 22:2)
And why did he not scream: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Gen. 18:25)
The lives of the father illuminate the lived experiences of the son. (see Bereishit Rabbah 48:7)
It is written: “Haran died in the lifetime of his father Terah” (Gen. 11:28)
And it is written: “Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot the son of Haran…and they set out together…for the land of Canaan” (Gen. 11:31)
And we read here: “So early next morning, Abraham…took…his son Isaac…and he set out for the place of which God had told him.” (Gen. 22:3)
Just as there it spoke of leaving against one’s will, so too here.
And where was Terach his father to teach him morals? (see Prov. 4:1)
Did he not live sixty years after he birthed his son Abraham? (see Gen. 21:5)
Terach was still in Haran, hated by Abraham on account of the statues. (Bereishit Rabbah 38:13)
And Abraham had no one to rely upon except God.
And in the end: “Abraham then returned to his servants…and Abraham stayed in Beersheba.” (Gen. 22:19)
Abraham did not have a father or a son.