In the biblical portion of Vayera that we read this past week Abraham is asked by his wife to send out, to cast away his concubine and his child. Following which God asks him to sacrifice his second son. I found it interesting and remarkable that no commentator that I read spoke of the relationship between these two stories. No one marked the notable similarity between the requirement of Abraham to cast away both of his children in two very different ways.
It did not go unnoticed for me as a closer reader of the text of the remarkable nature of these "requests" or "tests" - though I noted their similarity I believe they highlight two very different emotional depths.
The first a desire to cast out that which pains us and those we love-whether that be physical, emotional or mental anguish. We note the pain, the gapping sore, the diseased organ and we want nothing more than to cut it out - to remove it from our spiritual and emotional lives. We pray that we can get rid of whatever is eating away at our healthy souls...this is our Hagar and Yishmael.
The second is our Isaac. We have a soul bound up in our own and something, someone tries to pull us apart. A traumatic event, a loss causes us to find ourself a top a mountain willing to sacrfice something so important. WE have, like Abraham the knife in our hands, we have the sacrifice on our altar- we are all alone, frightened of the voice in our head that promises less pain if we commit this one act of faith, one moment of trust....then an angel appears, as if out of nowhere and reminds us that this is not our only option there is a ram in the thicket, some other choice to make, some other path to take....and our eyes our opened...