Orthodox Jews praise Abraham for his faith when he obeyed voices in his head that instructed him to slay his first-born son as a sacrifice to God. The Torah records no objection by Abraham to this moral outrage. Fortunately for Isaac and unfortunately for an innocent animal, at the last second, God instructed Abraham to replace his son on the altar with a ram caught in the thickets to satisfy God’s blood lust.
Albert Einstein called blind faith the enemy of the truth. Rational Jews worry when conservatives among us still believe we should emulate such faith. The “faithful” obeyed voices in their head to kill thousands of Americans on September 11 and our spiritual heirs, i.e. Christians and Muslims have spread untold carnage throughout history, citing the faith of Abraham as their inspiration. Jews should favor mindfulness over mindlessness and should denounce religious charlatans who prey upon, rather than for their flock.
Modern (inspiRational) Jews join the light of reason with the light to the nations, symbolized by two candles on Shabbat and reject man-made shackles of the mind. For rational Jews, Abraham showed his Jewish character when he challenged God’s plan to to wipe out the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and asked “Will the God of justice not act justly” and negotiated with God to try to save non-Jews. Transcending his obsequious behavior with Isaac, Abraham placed logic, reason and compassion (rachmanus) above the ultimate power in the universe and Jews have been challenging authority ever since. Abraham outgrew the tribal perspective that dominated the thinking of his time and embraced a cosmic view, which sees all humanity as one family.
The Torah does not record the psychological effect upon Isaac of seeing his father wielding a knife above him as he lay bound and helpless below. The story was written 1000s of years before anyone heard of PTSD. God’s sadistic behavior is excused and explained by the Orthodox and Kabbalists with a flippant phrase “Gam zeh l’tovah (this too is for the good), which leads to a moral stupor.
When the Orthodox of their day urged fellow Jews to revolt against the Babylonians and Romans, we suffered the destruction of both Temples and the death of thousands of Jews. The rabbis could not admit their faith was misplaced and implausibly explained “This too is for the good”, claiming that God used this carnage to chasten the Jews and punish us for failing to follow mindless rules. Moreover, they asserted that the exile allowed monotheism to spread to the diaspora.
There is even a legend that Orthodox icon, Rabbi Akiva laughed when he passed the great Temple in ruins remarking this too is for the good, saying cavalierly that it was part of God’s plan. Thus he learned nothing from the past and backed a second revolt against Rome under Bar Kokhba in 135 CE which resulted in his martyrdom, massive death and a near 2000 year exile for the Jewish people. When the loss of our Temple and unimaginable Jewish suffering is considered good, morality flies out the window.
Thus, it is easy to see why today’s conservatives blindly follow authority and back a pathetic morally challenged narcissist who confirms their Messianic delusions by resending a tweet referring to himself as the second coming of God and the king of the Jews As thousands die, our economy collapses, and millions suffer, his followers say it’s all good. Trump does not care as long as his ratings are high, he has Obama to blame and he has enough money to trade in his trophy wife for a newer model when she gets older.
Today, our nation suffers from PTSD, (President Trump Spells Disaster”), as the armies of the absurd and the battalions of the brainwashed say “this too is good” after each of Trump’s daily outrages.
If Trump has his way, houses of worship will reopen prematurely, spreading more death and disease among the faithful and in turn, among all of us. Since their delusion of heaven is a fairy tale, dying from covid 19 will not get them to a “better place”. We will get to a better place in the real world when we vote the bully out of the “bully pulpit” and follow Nelson Mandela’s advice to choose leaders based on our hopes not our fears. When we also replace blind faith with science and reason, Jewish ideals will prevail in America.