Monday, November 13, 2006


Posted by Dasi

One of the opinions on why Yonah did not deliver his nevuah to Nineveh was because he did not want to bring destruction to Bnei Yisrael. Perhaps he should have interjected and argued with Hashem initially instead of fleeing from God.
Two prime suspects in Sefer Breishit to help us flesh out this concern.

The early rabbinic midrash Genesis Rabbah quotes God as saying "I never considered telling Abraham to slaughter Isaac (using the Hebrew root letters for "slaughter", not "sacrifice")". Rabbi Yona Ibn Janach ( Spain, 11th century) wrote that God only demanded a symbolic sacrifice. Rabbi Yosef Ibn Caspi (Spain, early 14th century) wrote that Abraham's "imagination" led him astray, making him believe that he had been commanded to sacrifice his son. Ibn Caspi writes "How could God command such a revolting thing?

Was Avraham really supposed to do the Akeidah? Rather, is it even up to us to ASK?

1) The moral dilemma
Avraham Avinu spoke to Hashem in response to his threat to destroy Sodom-he wanted Hashem to find at least a certain amount of Tzadikim. He defended the people. One may argue that when he was told to jump into the fire to verify his faith in G-d, he did not argue. That act, however, was only pertaining to him and he is permitted choose whether or not he wants to endanger his life.
Why, then, when Akeidat Yitzchak rolls around, he does not argue or question G-d's nevuah in defense of his son. He wants so much to fulfill the nevuah, acccording to some, he desires to even spill a little blood form Yitzchak to fulfill Hashem's prophecy. If it out of his own compunction to pray for Sodom, why isn't he entitled to question the sacrifice of his son? (Some justify by saying that Isaac knew about it, but he idid not make the decision-its all on Abraham).

Is this why Noach is considered a lesser tzadik-because he didn't stand up for his generation?

2) The intellectual dilemma
Noach was certainly not active in pursuing the salvation of the people around him.
"And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die."
Why do commentators say he was a lesser tzadik than Avraham for not interjecting if Avraham neglects to defend his own son?

Does TORAH LO BASHAMAYIM HI apply to Nevuah, if so, does the interjection make a BETTER or WORSE Navi?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noach was considered to be a Tzadik inhis generation. Avraham was also considered to be a tzadik in his generation. Although certain commentaries compare Avraham to Noach, I personally don't think that we always have to compare their status' as neveim. In my opinion, the commentaries wanted to teach us the middah of chessed from Avraham and thus they compared him to Noach. Maybe Chessed came more naturally to Avraham then it did to Noach. This doesn't neccesarily mean that Noach was a bad person entirely and a wholly 'worse' Navi, it just means that Chessed wasn't his big thing. Also, apparently Noach's generation were a lot worse than Avraham's because all of them had to be destroyed in the flood whereas in Avraham's generation, only the cities of Soddom and Gomorah had to be destroyed. Avraham seems to have more room to be a Ba'al Chessed than does Noach. So I guess I think that we shouldn't compare Avraham and Noach so much because of their different circumstances.
-Rachael R.

November 14, 2006 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Throughout all the blogs and discussions that we have in class, I still stand by that we can't judge each and every navi to eachother. Avrhaam and Yonah lived in differnt times and diffrent things were expected of each of them. Just as Hashem judges each of us differntly, so too he judges each navi on a differnt level. Expanding on this, who was to expect differnt things from Avraham then from Yonah and vice versa. They were differnt people, at a differnt time, with diffrent personalities. Yonah clearly had a lot of questions towards G-d and we saw that he questioned the plan alot. With the Akiedah, Avraham was so ready to give his son up to Hashem, bc Avhraham was a differnt person than Yonah was. If Yonah had been in that situation where he was commanded to sacrifice his son, who knows what he would have done. We cant judge, bc we dont know. Therefore i argue saying that Yonah was worse then Avrham or Avrhahm was worse navi then Yonah bc again they were diffrent people, differnt commands from G-d, and they had differnt personalites. Yonah and Avrhaham both had reasoning for there interejections or lack of them. Avrhaham is shown more as a character that well go to the extreme to go to G-d and follow the will of G-d, whereas Yonah has shown us that he is willing to go to the other extreme. There actions clearly had implications, and we may not know why they did evyerhting they did or why they didnt do some things in certain cases and of course we can ponder, but there is no need for judgement.
-shira zurndorfer

November 14, 2006 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

I agree with Rachael and Shira and would like to add that not only were they in different time periods, but it was completley different situations. I think from the way we see both Noach and Avraham portrayed in the Tanach holds the true answer to the question. When talking about Akeydat Yitzchak we say it was amazing how Avraham was willing to sacrifice his own son---usually goes along with praise, while Noach ran away from what God told him to do---usually referred to as negative--so i think that the writers of the tanach chose to portray these men in a certain way, which is the way we should understand it.

November 14, 2006 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Amy said...

my first reaction was also to write that you cant compare avraham and noach. but than i realized that that wouldnt add to the conversation so i looked deeper and came up with this:

yes, maybe avraham is a greater nevual than noach, avraham argued for the people of his generation when noach didnt even try to warn or change them! And you can;t say that oh but avraham didnt try to save his son beacuse a. his son is still personal and not an entire generation and b. from what we see from the midresh genesis rabbah hashem clearly only meant sacrifice your son spiritually , avraham was trying to become closer to hashem and carrying out the steps of tying his son... was symbolic of this.

however, i am in no way saying that noach was a bad person. i am remembering that a. it was an entirly different generation- maybe the people in noach's wernt even worth arguing for and b. there are differet levals of neviim, maybe avraham was just on a higher leval- not to say that noach wasn't on the highest leval of his leval...

anyway, lets say that avraham was a greater navi . then yes, maybe yonah should have followed his example and argued with hashem about savaing or not saving the people of ninveh rather than runnning away. beacuse we know all that leads to is being swallowed and thrown up by multiple fish!!?!

November 14, 2006 9:57 PM  
Anonymous Eliana HOOrn said...

So, i think a lot of what was said so far is really right on... but i had a different take on the whole thing.

There are three cases that are being looked at in this discussion. First, Noach and the world. Second, Avraham and Sodom. Third, Avraham and Yitzchak. In my mind the only two that can be compared are the first two, noach and the world, and avraham and sodom. What seperates these from the third case of Akedat Yitzchak is the fact that in both the subjects are nations/ people that mean nothing to the men being tested. Sodom and Gemorah were evil cities-- the only connection Avraham had to them was Lot, and he owuld have been saved anyway. Noach was a better person than the rest of the world, and he had no reason to help them. Yet, Avraham, unlike NOach, tried to help the peole that meant nothing to him. That makes Avraham a greater person.

Now, Akeidat Yitzchak. Yitzchak meant more to Avraham than anything else in the world. To sacrifice that without contention is probably the greatest thing you could do. Therefore, Avraham is praised.

From these distinctions I think we can understand the whole thing with YOnah. Sort of the rule of thumb we get from the discussion is that we should argue for people that mean nothing to you and accept the fate of people who do mean something to you. These are the ultimate moral sacrifices. Thus, with Yonah, arguing for Bnei Yisroel, who meant the world to him, was possibly more inappropriate than what he did. Althought on the other hand I see his actions as a statemtn of argument with Hashem over the fates of Bnei Yisroel.

November 19, 2006 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Raquela said...

i think everyone is right in the whole "its different time periods" take. But its really more, as other people have already said, the situations. Noach was told what to do by hashem not for any purpose that had to do with Noach, similar to yonahs situation and yonah, like noach did not argue against Hashems word. Although Yonah didnt listen , he still did not disrespect Hashem in an argumentative way(he disrespected hashem even further by not listening but thats a different point). Avraham on the other hand with Sedom didnt really argue, rather he spoke to Hashem, not saying that Hashem was wrong in what to do but to make an exception in order to find the Tzadikim for the benefit of the Jews. All those examples though, have to do with the world apart from the navi, so a lingering question for me is why did avraham not argue to hashem about akeydat yitzchak since it really pertained to only avraham. I think the answer is because Avraham was such a great tzadik he never argues with Hashem, he didnt really argue with Hashem in the Sedom exmaple,because he thought Hashem was wrong, he simply made a suggestion. Avraham is considered a greater tzadik than Noach because he didnt argue against Hashems word in a bigger and more personal situtation than Noach.

November 24, 2006 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all a matter of what, specifically, God asked them to do.

God told Avraham to ACTIVELY take his son and sacrifice him.

God told Noach to build a boat but PASSIVELY let everyone around him die.

Both men accomplished (or attempted to until stopped by an outside force) what Hashem asked them to actively do.

However, there is still the problem of Noach not defending the world, the way Avraham defended Sodom. However, there is quite a difference between one city and the entire known world.

God wanted to destroy Sodom; it had gotten that bad. But this was still only one city, which meant there were dozens of others out there which were rightous enough to be left alone. Avraham KNEW that Sodom had the potential to be just as rightous as those other cities, and he tried to prove it. That's the important thing: Avraham saw what Sodom could aspire too.

With Noach however, he was dealing with the entire known civilization. There were no role models to compare it to, to aspire to. Noach just assumed everything was bad. He saw no example of the potential his civilization had.

I don't know if this makes one more righteous than the other, but it's helpful to understand what the world might have looked like from each set of eyes.

~Miriam M.

November 27, 2006 7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont think it has to do with a navi being a good or bad navi, worse or better. I think it has to do with the amount of emunah one has in Hashem. If one does not conradict Hashem, then clearly they exhibit faith in him. This doesnt mean to say that we shouldnt stand up for whats right. Clearly,we should always advocate for what we believe is morally right. However, i do not believe that noach is less of a tzadik than avraham, because the only true being who can really judge if a person is a tzaddik is Hashem. This is because being a tzaddic has to do with how close one is to hashem (thereby how much one enforces upon his/herself to closly follow Hashem's commandments). Clearly, judaism encourages us to debate-contradict-question. Because if we as jews didnt see questioning as vital to our religious growth there would be no such thing as torah shebaal peh. By questioning-we often can create alot more than by following-given that by contraditcing Hashem we still contradict in order to more thouroughlly do what Hashem really wants from us. -arella

November 30, 2006 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talking about why Avraham didn't question Hashem about sacrificing his son Yitzchak: So in his time Avraham was trying to make it known that there was only one God and no idols. He was a revolutionary for worship in that time. He was always saying that Hashem is the only God and he is one. He would do absolutely anything for Hashem, or he was willing to do anything Hashem told/asked him to do. Either to prove his loyalty/faith or to teach others that Hashem is the true God. One of the things that he taught was not to sacrifice human beings because Hashem was totally against it. So you can imagine that when Hashem told Avraham to "sacrifice" Yitzchak, Avraham definately went through complete confusion and hardship to not only believe was he was hearing and to actually do it. Avraham would have to go against almost everything he stood for and what Hashem stood for. Not to mention it would not look too good if other people heard or saw what Avraham had to do, they would think he was a hypocrite. But since Avraham didn't even question Hashem's order (in this ridiculous situation) even moreso Avraham just accepting it would make him a bigger Tzaddik than Noach.

January 14, 2007 12:01 PM  

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