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    Feeling young again

    The binding of Isaac, by A Losenko

    The Akedah story has a cast of six – Abraham and Isaac, two servant lads, the angel of God who speaks from heaven, and Sarah, who is at home wondering and probably weeping.

    Plus a seventh member, the ram that is caught in the bushes and offered up in place of Isaac.

    There is a great deal of commentary about the two lads, including a surprising interpretation by the Baal Shem Tov.

    Says the text, Vayyikkach et sh’nei n’arav immo – “And he took his two lads with him” (Gen. 22:3).

    The Baal Shem connects sh’nei, “two”, with shanah, “a year”, and gives the verse a homiletic twist as if to say, “He took the years of his lads with him” – embarked upon a task given by God, he walked with a youthful spring in his step and became young again.

    We know that Abraham and Sarah were elderly parents, and Abraham could have answered God’s call by saying, “Lord, this is a task for a younger person. I have aches and pains and I don’t walk so well any more. How do you expect me to ascend a mountain and carry out a task that requires physical energy?”

    But this is not what happened. Abraham set off as instructed – because all of a sudden he had the energy of a young man again: an experience that a senior adult undergoes from time to time when an important assignment is on the agenda. For a moment at least, one is young again.

    Remember how many apparently elderly people have made contributions to civilisation that the world thought were beyond them at their age?

    Wouldn’t life have been different without the historic deeds of an elderly Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Rabbi Akiva and so many other senior citizens?

    The young sometimes denigrate the old, but history proves them wrong.

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