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The “Akedah,” or “binding of Isaac” is the Torah portion that most people relate with Rosh Hashanah. Though Isaac is the one being bound, the story is referred to as a test of Abraham. Reference to this story appears throughout the Rosh Hashanah liturgy. Even the shofar (ram’s horn) blown on the holiday is said to be a reminder of the Akedah, and how Isaac was spared. Though the story itself is quite troubling, it does contain a message of hope for Rosh Hashanah. In the liturgy we ask God to “remember us for life.” The binding of Isaac concludes with his life being spared, and he too is “remembered for life.” Abraham’s devotion results in hope for life.
It should be noted that while this is the traditional reading for the second day of Rosh Hashanah, in the Reform tradition most congregations read this portion (through Genesis 22:18) on the first day of the holiday. This English translation is reprinted with permission from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures published by the Jewish Publication Society.
22:1. Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test. He said to him, “Abraham,” and he answered, “Here I am.”
22:2. And He said, “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights which I will point out to you.”
22:3. So early next morning, Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and he set out for the place of which God had told him.
22:4. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place from afar.
22:5. Then Abraham said to his servants, “You stay here with the ass. The boy and I will go up there; we will worship and we will return to you.”
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