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On the Reconciliation of Yitsḥaq: a meditation on the Offering of the Two Goats on Yom Kippur, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center)

https://opensiddur.org/?p=39790 On the Reconciliation of Yitsḥaq: a meditation on the Offering of the Two Goats on Yom Kippur, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow (the Shalom Center) 2021-10-17 12:49:25 Especially for those of us who use the Torah passages on the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael and the Binding of Isaac for Rosh Hashanah, together with Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman, I want to recommend that you read from the Sefer Torah the passage in Genesis 25:7-11 on the reconciliation of the two brothers as they come together to bury their dangerous father Avraham/Ibrahim/Abraham. Text the Open Siddur Project Arthur Waskow Arthur Waskow Phyllis Berman the Shalom Center https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Arthur Waskow https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Aqedat Yitsḥaq Yom Kippur Israelis and Palestinians Azazel Bnei Yisrael and Yishmael peace
Hebrew English
Especially for those of us who use the Torah passages on the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael and the Binding of Isaac for Rosh Hashanah, together with Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman, I want to recommend that you read from the Sefer Torah the passage in Genesis 25:7-11 on the reconciliation of the two brothers as they come together to bury their dangerous father Avraham/Ibrahim/Abraham.
I say “reconciliation” because the passage ends with Isaac going to live at the wellspring that saved Hagar’s and Ishmael’s lives, the one that Hagar named Be’er Laḥai Ro’i, Well of the Living-One Who-Sees-Me. This is the passage, from Everett Fox’s translation in The Five Books of Moses (Schocken, 1995):
וְאֵ֗לֶּה יְמֵ֛י שְׁנֵֽי־חַיֵּ֥י אַבְרָהָ֖ם אֲשֶׁר־חָ֑י
מְאַ֥ת שָׁנָ֛ה וְשִׁבְעִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְחָמֵ֥שׁ שָׁנִֽים׃
וַיִּגְוַ֨ע וַיָּ֧מׇת אַבְרָהָ֛ם בְּשֵׂיבָ֥ה טוֹבָ֖ה
זָקֵ֣ן וְשָׂבֵ֑עַ
וַיֵּאָ֖סֶף אֶל־עַמָּֽיו׃
25 7 Now these are the days and years of the life of Avraham, which he lived:
A hundred years and seventy years and five years, then he expired.
8 Avraham died at a good ripe-age,
old and satisfied (in days),
and was gathered to his kinspeople.
וַיִּקְבְּר֨וּ אֹת֜וֹ יִצְחָ֤ק וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל֙ בָּנָ֔יו
אֶל־מְעָרַ֖ת הַמַּכְפֵּלָ֑ה
אֶל־שְׂדֵ֞ה עֶפְרֹ֤ן בֶּן־צֹ֙חַר֙ הַֽחִתִּ֔י אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־פְּנֵ֥י מַמְרֵֽא׃
הַשָּׂדֶ֛ה אֲשֶׁר־קָנָ֥ה אַבְרָהָ֖ם מֵאֵ֣ת בְּנֵי־חֵ֑ת
שָׁ֛מָּה קֻבַּ֥ר אַבְרָהָ֖ם וְשָׂרָ֥ה אִשְׁתּֽוֹ׃
9 Yitsḥaq and Yishmael his sons buried him,
in the cave of Makhpelah,
in the field of Efron son of Tsoḥar the Hittite, that faces Mamré,
10 the field that Avraham had acquired from the Sons of Ḥet.
There were buried Avraham and Sarah his wife.
וַיְהִ֗י אַחֲרֵי֙ מ֣וֹת אַבְרָהָ֔ם וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־יִצְחָ֣ק בְּנ֑וֹ
וַיֵּ֣שֶׁב יִצְחָ֔ק עִם־בְּאֵ֥ר לַחַ֖י רֹאִֽי׃ {פ}
11 Now it was after Avraham’s death, that Elohim blessed Yitsḥaq his son.
And Yitsḥaq settled by the Well of the Living-one Who-Sees-Me.
It seems to us that the point of Yom Kippur is to make tshuvah and tiqqun from misdeeds of our lives. The reconciliation of the two brothers may be an example that should be lifted up for Yom Kippur, and treated with the importance of a formal Torah reading on that day.
That is pshat.[1] The explicit meaning.  On a more midrashic level, we might say that the ritual of the two goats echoes the dangers faced by the two brothers – one goat offered up precisely where tradition says Isaac was bound, almost to be offered; and the other goat is sent away into the wilderness, as Ishmael was. We might see this as “We do not do this to humans any more — God forbid, God forbade! — only to goats.” And then this becomes only a story-telling, not a physical act even toward goats — as if to say, “We don’t do this to animals, either: we only tell the story.”
But perhaps then we have grown enough in our awareness to say, “But even that is not enough. At this time of year we must lift up a positive act of peace-making, and let it find its way into our hearts and even our hands, as we seek to lift up a truer end of the story to affect ourselves in our own generation.”

 

Notes

Notes
1 The explicit meaning.

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