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The Torah In Haiku: Vayeira

The Torah In Haiku: Vayeira

God says: Abraham
Abraham says: Hineini<
I'm here, I'm ready

Isaac says: Father
Abraham says: Hineini
I'm here, I'm ready

Angel: Abraham
Abraham says: Hineini
I'm here, I'm ready

When God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22:1), when Isaac calls his father to ask about the missing sacrifice (Genesis 22:7), and when the angel finally stops Abraham's hand (Genesis 22:11), the response is the same - "hineini"

Hineini isn't just about physical presence. It implies an emotional presence - being undistracted, completely focused, aware and "in the moment". The repeated use of this word throughout the story of the Akedah suggests Abraham had passed his test from the moment it began.

He was ready to obey God's command because he wasn't worried about what would be required. He was ready with reassuring words for his son because he also believed them. He was ready - although probably also relieved - when the angel called him to stop, because he already knew how this episode would end.

The test might not have just been to see if Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son. Perhaps it was also to make sure he knew what it meant to be present - "hineini". For God, for his son, and for himself.

Ed Nickow is a teacher and member of the Board of Trustees at Temple Chai in Long Grove, IL. He blogs at The Torah in Haiku.

Ed Nickow

Published: 11/07/2014

Categories: Learning, Torah Study
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