Poetry of the Akedah

(Translations by me)

The True Hero of the Akedah
Yehuda Amichai

The true hero of the Akedah was the ram
Who did not know about the pact among the others.
It was as if he volunteered to die in place of Isaac.
I want to sing, for him, a memorial song,
About the curly wool and the mortal eyes
About the horns that stood silent on its living head.
After the slaughter, they were made into shofars
To sound the blast of their wars
And to sound the blast of their base celebrations.

I want to remember that final image –
Like a pretty photograph in a fancy fashion magazine:
The tanned, pampered youth in his finest of frocks
And by his side, the angel, dressed in a long silk gown
As if for a festive reception.
And the two of them, with desolate eyes,
Looking out to two distant desolate places.

And behind them, as a colorful background, the ram
Entangled in the thicket before slaughter–
The thicket, his final friend.

The angel departed homewards
Issac departed homewards
And Abraham and God had parted ways a while back.

But the true hero of the Akedah
Was the ram.

* * *

The Actions of the Fathers
T. Carmi

And after the Akedah?
Then the most difficult test began.

Abraham took his son to the camel races
Hiked with him from the Euphrates to the Nile,
Swam by his side, watching him like a hawk
In the waters of Eilat. And when they returned home,
He slaughtered flocks and herds aplenty,
All tender and good,
Sweet scent of songs and of muscle and meat
And guests in good graces come in from afar.
Isaac ate and ate, ate –
And was silent.

Abraham bought his wife a fur coat
And golden jewelry
He installed emergency lighting in their tent
He brought her boots in style from a shop on the Nile
Hashish from Tarshish,
Cinnamon from Lebanon.
Sarah, who grew old overnight,
Never took off her mourning clothes.

Abraham prayed to his God morning and evening,
He hung tzedakah boxes on all the tamarisk trees,
Studied his Torah night and day,
And gave room and board to angels for almost no fee.
The voice from on high disappeared.

And the voice within him
(The only one left)
Said: Yes, you went
From your land, from your homeland, the land of your father,
And now, in the end, from yourself.

* * *

Meir Wieseltier

The only thing in the world that Abraham loved was God.
He did not love the gods of other men,
Which were made of wood or clay and of polished vermilion,
Which were created by men who came home each evening to their wives
to guzzle meat and wine,
Which were sold in the city market like onions to the highest bidder:
He invented his own God, and made himself His chosen one.

And of everything that existed in the world, he loved only Him – God.
He did not bow down to other gods; he said to them: If you go right,
I’ll go left; If you go left, I’ll go right
He said: Lest they say, I made him wealthy.
He refused to take anything from anyone or to give anyone anything,
Except God. Him, all He had to do was ask,
And He would receive. Everything. Even Isaac, the only one, the tender inheritor.
(But if there is a God, there is also an angel.)

He did not appreciate anything in the world, only God.
He never sinned to Him; there was no difference between them.
Not like Isaac, who loved his coarse-minded son; not like Jacob
Who slaved away for women, who limped from the blows that God gave him at night,
Who saw angelic ladders only in dreams.
Not so Abraham, who loved God, and whom God loved,
And together they counted the righteous of the city before they wiped it out.

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