Father Abraham – Vayera 5779

D'var Torah | Genesis

The fascinating fact is that following the attempted sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham, there is no record in the Biblical narrative that the two ever spoke again. It seems that the Binding of Isaac – as the episode comes to be called – was a watershed in theology but a crisis for the family. The lacuna in the Biblical narrative requires some explanation, assuming that the prolonged silence is intentional. It is here that an observation of Warren Farrell is helpful.


Warren Farrell has built a career on examining the fault lines in our culture that has become increasingly gynocentric and in many cases misandrous. While women have enjoyed growing opportunities, men – particularly boys – are everywhere in crisis. Writing in the National Post (June 13, 2018) Barbara Kay cites some of the corroborating statistics. Boys are falling behind academically in sixty of the most developed nations. Boys are fifty percent less likely than girls to meet the basic standards of proficiency in reading. Rates of diagnosed cases of learning disabilities like ADHD are escalating among boys. Male prison inmates are eighty-five percent fatherless. And the gap between male and female suicides has tripled in the United States. Farrell believes that solutions are possible. But first, society needs to challenge the mistaken idea that males are “disposable.” He articulates that idea in his 1993 book entitled The Myth of Male Power.


Central to his thesis is the idea that since the emergence of human society humanity has depended upon for survival male willingness to perform the tasks with the greatest degree of danger and the highest risk for injury and death. This includes the physical defense of women and children: society’s more vulnerable members. Thus, males develop the attitude that their social status in society can only be earned through their willingness to self-sacrifice. As Barbara Kay notes: “Men can achieve high social valuation only by conceding the pricelessness of women’s and children’s lives, while placing low value on their own.”


Returning to Abraham and Isaac, we can now understand why the two can no longer engage in any conversation, meaningful or otherwise. By intentionally putting Isaac at risk – despite the fact that he did so at God’s command – Abraham violated the unspoken understanding that required him to sacrifice himself rather than his child. Isaac simply could not face his father anymore.



Words to Live By

What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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