Rabbi Moshe Pinchuk
Former Rosh Kollel (Melbourne, 1998-2001)
Currently Head of the Beit Midrash in Netanya College
Chumash records two dialogues between Hashem and Avraham in our Sedra. In the first, Hashem reveals to Avraham his plans to destroy Sodom. Avraham’s reaction is bold and astounding he begs for mercy on Sodomand practically criticizes Hashem for improper ethics.
In the second, Hashem asks Avraham to offer his child Yitzchak as a sacrifice. Here Avraham’s reaction is equally astounding. He does not utter a word, complete silence. This is not a dialogue but a monologue.
Avraham’s reactions in both instances are enigmatic. Hashem’s decision to destroy Sodoma source of concentrated evil is completely understandable, even desired, why then would Avraham argue this decision? Conversely, the request for child sacrifice cries out against all that Hashem has taught and promised Avraham. How can he be silent here?
There is one basic difference between these two dialogues – The first is simply a revelation, Hashem has to decided to share with Avraham his divine plans. Under such circumstances one is allowed if not required to understand Hashem’s ways so that he can understand Hashem, come closer to him and emulate him. This is exactly Avraham’s reaction in the Dialogue of Sodom. The second is not a revelation but a command, an order. The reaction to the command of Hashem is silent obedience. “na’aseh vnishma”. Such was Avraham’s reaction in the Monologue of the Akedah.
I leave to the reader a point to ponder – The dialogue of Moses at the burning bush. There too a command was presented to Moses and nevertheless his reaction was a dialogue – for three days he argued with Hashem in an attempt to avoid the command. How does such behavior square with the above suggestion?