Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Vayeitze 5775–Hapax Shabbat

In 2006, I wrote the following musing (But this is more than just that musing redux, so be sure to read on, even if you’ve read it before and recall my thoughts.

Hapax Upon All Your Hapaxes 5767 (2006)

Jacob has a dream. In that dream, with something reaching up from the ground to the sky with angels of G"d going up and down upon it. (Gen. 28: 12)

In various translations, that something is called a staircase, a ladder. The problem is, we don't really know what it is. What would angels of G"d require to transport themselves to and from Heaven? Why would they need to do that in the first place? Of course, that's reading too much into the text. It's just a dream, and a a metaphor within it.

According to the Etz Hayim commentary (which is based on the JPS commentary) the angels of G"d "play no role in the dream and probably reflect the notion of angelic beings who patrol the earth and report back to G"d." Well, not to disagree with Mssrs. Sarna, Levine, Milgrom and Tigay, respected scholars all, but, well, I disagree! I don't think the angels in Jacob's dream are at all insignificant. To put it in Freudian terms, I don't think these cigars are cigars at all. To simply toss off these angels and their mode of conveyance as unimportant and irrelevant is a somewhat unusual way to approach the text of Torah - at least as far as our tradition has done. If something is in the Torah, surely there's a reason it's there. So I'm going to explore it.

The word variously translated as staircase or ladder, is sullam--סלּם--samekh, lamed, mem-sofit. And it is what scholars refers to as a hapax legomenon--from the Greek--άπαξ λεγόμευου--[something] said once--a word that occurs only once in the written records of a language, an author's works, or a single text. Sullam appears only once in all of Torah and Tanakh.

It's derivation is uncertain. Some scholars argue that it derives from the Hebrew root samekh, lamed, lamed - meaning "to rise up," which is linked to the Akkadian word sullu, meaning highway. (In turn, scholars argue, the word "selah" is derivative from the same source, and where it is used in the Psalms, probably means a musical direction to raise the voice higher--though we can;t be sure if that means volume or pitch.) Other scholars believe sullam derives from the Akkadian word simmiltu which means steps or stairs.

Why does it matter? Well, what got me started on this was wondering about the difference between a ladder and stairs, and how that might play into what Jacob visualizes in his dream. Stairs are generally easier to negotiate than ladders. Ladders tend to be steeper, and they don't have as much of a resting place for ones feet. One the other hand, stairs (until the invention of the stair railing) are devoid of anything to help the person climbing them pull themselves along with their hands. On a ladder, one almost has to use their hands to assist in climbing both up and down.

And then, in the midst of all my efforts to determine just what this sullam was, I was hit - bam! - (or as some prefer, "duh!") with my answer.

We're not meant to know what this word sullam means. It's a hapax legomenon purposefully. We cannot fully fathom G"d and G"ds ways, so there is no need for us to know what conveyance for the angels Jacob saw in his dream. For purposes of telling the tale, of revealing the dream, we had to give that thing a name. Perhaps sullam doesn't mean anything. Or perhaps a sullam is exactly what it is, it is just something beyond our understanding (or that we are simply not meant to understand.)

OK. That revelation and explanation ought to hold me. For at least a minute or so. And then I am once again urged by that voice of human hubris inside me to say that I just can't live with that as an answer. This Shabbat, I have choices. I can simply accept that I will never know what a sullam is, and why it is in Jacobs dream and why angels of G"d are going up and down upon it. Perhaps that will bring me Shabbat peace. It might also give me Shabbat fits, and the only way I will find Shabbat peace is to not be content with the answer "it is not for you to know." That is another choice. Perhaps this is a third alternative? Maybe that's what I should spend Shabbat contemplating.

May this Shabbat be unique-one of a kind-for you. A Shabbat hapax legomenon--(something) said only once. Well, perhaps more sui generis. No, Shabbat is a word, and G"d did create the universe with words. So *this* Shabbat could indeed be something akin to something said only once. Or maybe just need a nonce for the occasion. How about a Googlewhack Shabbat?


OK, we’re back in 2014. I can only say, WHAT WAS I THINKING? I actually expected that “ineffable G”d” was going to work – even for a few moments? Ha! However, thinking that the impetus to not be satisfied with that as an answer might be my way into Shabbat peace was just as foolish a notion. Just as thinking that I could accept that “sullam” meant nothing, that it was just a  word created where one was needed led to no peace at all.

So what do you do when all the potential solutions lead nowhere? Do you throw them all out and start again? Do you allow them to all exist simultaneously in tension with one another, and balance each other out?

That last option feels right.How do I make that work? It should be easy – after all, it’s what I am doing constantly, every day, every moment, with so many different things, concepts, ideas, beliefs, practices, ethics, morals, etc. Tension and conflict are the norm.

Aha! If tension and conflict are the norm, and Shabbat is, to some degree, about “not the norm,” then perhaps Shabbat is meant to be the time when conflict and tension get a  rest. Oh, crikey! I’ve talked myself in a complete circle. Or not. Setting aside the tension and conflict between my varying understandings of what a “sullam” is and what it means does not necessarily mean defaulting to the “we’re just not meant to know” option. No, it might mean truly setting aside the conflict itself. Is that even possible? Can I achieve that state of mind?

If I am honest with myself, the answer has to be (a qualified) yes. I have experienced, and reported in these musings and other writings before, my ability to be transported to a different level of existence and experience during worship (and not just on Shabbat.) So yes, when I am engaged in worship, and especially when there is music involved,and even more so when I am one helping to create that music, I can escape from my intellectual reality long enough to not be thinking about all the conflict and tension in my thoughts. Can I do that at other times during Shabbat?  Does the type of Shabbat observance in which I engage affect my ability to do this?

My own experience would tell me that observance may not be the key. As a liberal Jew, I have experienced a full range of different levels of Shabbat observance. I have experienced a fully halakhic Shabbat in a religiously observant community. I have experienced Shabbat in the wilderness, in Israel, at camp, in the synagogue and pother places. Yes, due to the inconstant nature of my own praxis, my Shabbat experiences have also included activities that would not, from a halakhic perspective, be considered appropriate. I might say that there have been situations in which my non-halakhic activities have brought me closer to G”d and felt more “shabbasdik” and meaningful than at other times when my activities were more in keeping with a traditional understanding of Shabbat. At the same time, I have had some very profound Shabbat experiences when I was engaged in a fully observant halakhic Shabbat. So no, I don’t believe “how” I do Shabbat might have that much impact on my ability to set aside the usual daily tensions and conflicts of my daily intellectual struggle with Torah (and in this specific case, the meaning of “sullam” and whether knowing what it really means even matters.)

I wonder if, rather than how, the answer may be found in “why” I do Shabbat. If I make my Shabbat purpose a way to find rest from the tensions and conflicts of my daily intellectual and spiritual struggles with Torah and Judaism and G”d and life, the universe, and everything, might I actually ne able to do so?

Wait a minute. Isn’t Shabbat exactly the time when I should be thinking about Torah, and G”d, and faith? Or have we gotten that wrong? Maybe G”d really meant us to rest our minds as well as our bodies?

Rats. I’m no closer to an answer than when I started. In fact, I’m deeper down the rabbit hole. Arrrrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!

I need something to which I can grab on. Maybe I was on to something in 2006. Making each Shabbat a “one off,” Making it its own hapax legomenon, making all our Shabbats hapax legomena. Unique experiences, each and every time. (But then the tension of the fact that we repeat the same liturgy every Shabbat intrudes. Then I think – but we can use different music – or  alternate liturgy – if we are confortable doing that. Does this cycle ever end? Oh, how I envy those who can shut their brains off. Who can meditate and push all the tension and conflict out of their mind for a moment of time.) Somebody please tell my brain to shut up.

Shabbat Shalom,

©2014 (portions ©2006) by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings On This Parasha

Vayeitzei 5774 - Terms and Conditions Revisted
Vayeitze 5773 - Mandrakes and More
Vayeitze 5772 - Stumbling on Smooth Paths
Vayeitzei 5771 - Luz is No Loser
Vayeitzei 5769 - Going Down and Loving It!
Vayeitzei 5768 - Encounters
Vayeitzei 5767-Hapax On All Your Hapaxes
Vayetze 5766-Pakhad HaShem?
Vayetze 5765-Cows and Cranberries
Vayetze 5764-Terms and Conditions
Vayetze 5763-Now and Then
Vayetze 5762-Change in Perspective
Vayetze 5760-Taking Gd's Place

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Tol’dot 5775- Esau’s Plan

I’m going to revisit the issues I first discussed in 5762’s “Winners and Losers,” and 5763’s “Not Sticking In The Knife” and elaborate upon my thoughts on the subject.

The initial question is whether or not Yitzkhak was a knowing but quiescent partner in the “deception” in which Yaakov received Yitzkhak’s blessing. Rabbis, commentators, and scholars have a diversity of opinion on the matter. There are all the usual arguments-that Yitzchak knew that Yaakov was the better choice than Esav; that Yitzchak simply submitted to what he thought to be G”d's will; that the text of Torah is full of clues or indications that clearly Yitzchak knew that it was Yaakov he was blessing, and not Esau.

I posited, when I first wrote about this, that this could still be construed as a somewhat misogynistic interpretation. Rebekkah conspires with Yaakov to fool Yitzchak, but Yitzchak is not fooled. So once again, the man is/the men are the true ultimate winner.

Yet again, I ask the question I did before: who is the winner in all this?

  • Yitzchak, because he went along with the deception knowingly but feigning surprise, so he got the better of his wife, the better of his sons, and still got what he thought was the best end result (there we go with the teleological stuff again)?
  • Rebekkah, because even though Yitzchak knew of the duplicity, she still got what she wanted?
  • Yaakov? He obviously wanted very much to be the one who inherited-he stole Esau's birthright and blessing through trickery, and got exactly what he wanted.

All of these answers have one commonality – they have Esav as the loser. A deserved loser. Esav, who thought nothing of G”d, and so little of his own birthright that he gladly sold it for a little food. I ask again, is Esav truly the loser? I sometimes wonder. Oh, he makes a great show of his displeasure of not inheriting and not getting Yitzchak's blessing, but, in the end, perhaps he gets what he really wants- to not be stuck with the responsibility of being the head of the clan, and have the freedom to do whatever he wants. He takes the wives he wants. In an even stranger twist, knowing he has displeased Yitzchak by marrying two Hittite women, he goes and marries a first cousin, a daughter of Ishmael! Yaakov, fearing his brother's wrath, has to run away. But Esau just gets to hang around, have fun, and not have the burden of inheritance. Dig into the mind of Esau, and we might discover that he really got what he wanted all along. Well played, Esau, well played. (If we look into the future, we may discover that he played things just as well when he and his brother were briefly reunited years later.)

Perhaps Esau got what he wanted. Now we must ask if Esau got what he deserved? It is (perhaps) true that Esav was warlike, hot-tempered, cared little for G”d, and looked for the easy way out of things. So, in some respects, Esav got what was coming to him-deprived of his birthright and his father’s blessing. On the other hand, if that is exactly what Esav really wanted in the first place, was the balance of justice preserved?

Is it possible that G”d had originally intended to have Esau be the one to carry on the lineage, but once G”d saw how Esau used the free will he had, G”d decided to punt (and then go back and rewrite the history.)

The year after I first wrote about this, I posited that perhaps Esau wasn’t such a bad guy. He resisted that all to easy temptation, that defiant, stick-out-your-tongue gesture that we all seem to derive a brief moment of pleasure from. Esau certainly seems to be the kind who might do such a thing. Having been denied the birthright and first blessing his brother stole from him, and probably upset with his father for unwittingly (or perhaps wittingly?) falling for the deception, Esau is a likely candidate to stick his tongue out at his father in a defiant gesture. Yet he resists.

The rabbis like to paint Esau as quite the negative. An earthy man, not smart like his brother. And yes, Esau does indeed threaten to kill his brother. One can hardly blame him. Yet Esau does not kill his brother Yaakov. And when Yaakov is advised to stealthily slip away lest Esau catch him and kill him, Esau does not pursue.

So there we have something to admire about Esau. He didn't pursue his brother to revenge himself. He didn't give in to the temptation.

And yet another--he resists the opportunity to thumb his nose at his father Yitzchak. He knew he had already displeased both his parents by marrying Judith and Beeri, both Hittite women. The text tells us that these marriages were a source of morat ruach, bitterness, to Yitzchak and Rivka. And now Esau sees his parents sending away his brother to kinsfolk with the clear intention of assuring he marries within the tribe.

However, instead of that defiant gesture, what does Esau do? The last few verses of our parasha tell us. (B’reisheet 28:6-9.) Esau realizes now how his marrying the Hittite women displeased his parents, and so he took a wife from within the tribe--sort of. He marries Ishmael's daughter. Now, one might argue that, in so doing, Esau was still sort of sticking it to his parents, but that would be imposing our modern viewpoint on the realities of Esau's time. Ishmael and his line were part of the clan. (You know that story of Yitzkhak going to live with Ishmael and Hagar after the akeidah I’ve always wanted to write, right? Actually, I’ve started it, finally.) At the end of Khayyei Sarah we read of Ishmael's line, and how they dwelled alongside their kinsmen. So Esau honored his parents wishes, showed his parents the respect they deserved from him. And he did this even at a time when he could easily feel wronged by his parents. A powerful lesson indeed.

So Esau resisted the temptation. Perhaps he was learning. After all, we later discover that Esau prospers, and, despite Yaakov worst fears, revenge is not on Esau's mind.

And so, too, can we learn. I know I've done it. Found a way to appear nice yet "stick it" to someone with a clever twist of words or a sharp-tongued phrase. I'm not proud of it. And I pray for the strength and wisdom to learn, as Esau did, to control that urge.

So was Esau a winner or loser? It is hard in life, at times, to really determine who the winners and losers are. (That is, if you even believe that there are winners and losers.) The Torah isn't really clear on all this.

Are these our choices in life-to be like Yaakov or like Esau? I’m no longer sure which one to be like.

You know who the real winners are? We are-because we get to learn and benefit from these stories, from our holy Torah. To twist it and stretch it and turn it inside out and upside down in a search for meaning and understanding in our own lives. And if we learn anything from the story of Yaakov and Esau, it's that thing are never simple, obvious, or clear cut!

Shabbat Shalom.

©2014 (portions ©2001 and 2002) by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings On This Parasha:

Tol'dot/Makhar Hodesh 5774 - Drops That Sparkle
Tol'dot 5773 - More Teleology
Tol'dot 5771 - Keeping the Bathwater
Toldot 5769 - There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This
Toldot 5768 - Alternate Histories, Alternate Shmistories
Toldot 5767-They Also Serve...
Toldot 5765-Purposeless Fire
Toledot 5764-What a Bother!
Toledot 5763-Not Sticking in The Knife
Toledot 5762-Winners and Losers
Toledot 5761-Is This All There Is?
Toledot 5758-Like Father, Like Son

Friday, November 14, 2014

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Khayyei Sarah 5775–Revisiting L’kha Dodi Likrat Kala

(This is an updated version of a musing first written in 2000.)

All around him were sadness, troubles, and pain. His father had been willing to kill him before G”d intervened. His mother was now dead (not that she had done anything to dissuade his father.) He had been so disconnected from his parents that he chose to live apart for them for many years. His father, with no wife to bother anymore, had set his sights on finding a wife for him. His father had sent his servant back to his father’s old homeland, in hopes of finding a good wife for him from their clan. Everything to be unhappy about. All the ingredients for depression and a sad, weary life.

Then, into this sea of sadness and discontent comes a woman, hidden behind a veil, a bride.  He symbolically took and bedded her in his mother’s tent. He took her and loved her and found comfort in her.

All around us are sadness, troubles, pain. We work hard to support ourselves. sometimes we work too hard and too long to try and forget the troubles in our lives.. We have bad days-and we cause bad days for others. People try to hurt us for unfathomable reasons. We have our differences with our parents. We lose loved ones.

His life after that may not have been the best life. He and his wife may not have turned out to be any better parents to their children this his parents were for him. However, she was enough for him to find a way through his pain and sadness, and live again.

Into our sea of discontent there too comes a veiled bride. Every week. We too should take her and espouse her, love her and find comfort in her. Come, beloved, come great the bride-let us welcome Shabbat.

After losing Sarah, Abraham took another wife. We, too, will lose our weekly Shabbat bride as the flame of the twisted candle is extinguished. Yet, as our ancestor Abraham did, we too will be able to take another bride. Each week we marry anew. Joseph Smith has nothing on us-although each of our brides – each Shabbat – is different, they are, in effect, all the same. Serial monogamy of a sort.

We should praise G”d that we are honored so with this weekly blessing.

We should watch, too, for the nameless servants of our G”d who, as did the nameless servant of Abraham, go out to seek our bride for us. They are out there, and yet we forget them. They are those in our lives who make sure that the Shabbat bride finds her way to us each week. We should thank them, for perhaps, without their help, our bride might not find her way to our homes. Or we might be too busy, to angry, to sad or hurt to see the bride standing there, waiting for us to wed her each week.

There is risk in any marriage. Even wedding the Shabbat bride brings with it its share of risk. The risk that we will lose her before there are again three stars in the sky. The risk that we will want her so much we would fear to ever part with her-thus depriving ourselves the chance to live and be part of this world, and continue to be G”d's partner in the continuing creation. If every day of the week is like Shabbat, then what is the meaning of Shabbat?

But what relationship is without risk? This gift that G”d offers us each week-to wed the bride of Shabbat-we should not fear accepting it.

[To those among you unhappy with the male-dominated imagery, think of Shabbat as a groom if you prefer, or lover, or whatever. Just don't pass up the opportunity to share in the relationship that G”d offers you each week.]

I go now to greet the bride of Shabbat. Go ye to to greet yours.

To each and every one of you and your loved ones a

Shabbat Shalom.


©  2015 (portions ©2000) by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings on This Parasha

Hayyei Sarah 5774 - The Books of Hagar and Abishag
Hayyei Sarah 5773 - Still Tilting at Windmills
Hayyei Sarah 5772 - Zikhnah
Hayyei Sarah 5771 - The Book That Isn't - Yet
Hayyei Sarah 5770 - Call Me Ishamel II
Hayyei Sarah 5769 - Looking for Clues
Hayyei Sarah 5768 - A High Price
Hayei Sarah  5767-Never Warm?
Chaye Sarah 5766-Semper Vigilans
Chaye Sarah 5763-Life Goes On
Chaye Sarah 5762-Priorities, Redundancies And Puzzles
Chayeh Sarah 5761-L'cha Dodi Likrat Kala
Hayyei Sarah 5760 - Call Me Ishmael
Chaye Sarah 5757-The Shabbat That Almost Wasn't

Friday, November 7, 2014

Random Musing Before Shabbat–Vayeira 5775–He’s A Family Guy? (Revised Redux 5769)

 If you’re not a fan of or familiar with the animated comedy series “Family Guy” by Seth McFarlane (who also produced the recent remake of Cosmos) you might not fully appreciate this recycled musing from 6 years ago. The show is not to everyone’s taste. It is sophomoric, has lots of crude humor, and is generally offensive (it is an equal opportunity offender!) Yet, like other challenging series like South Park, The Simpsons, and others, it also offers insightful commentaries on our society, our values, our politics, our beliefs, our culture and more. I’m not ashamed to admit that I find it entertaining and thought-provoking at times. Sometimes I find myself on the floor laughing. At other times I find myself wincing.  As uncomfortable as it makes me to say this, I think that suggests the show succeeds in its intent. So, with this introduction, I offer you this “Family Guy” based retelling of the akedah, slightly edited and adapted from the original version from 6 years ago.

He’s a Family Guy?

There's a short scene from the TV cartoon comedy "Family Guy" in which Peter Griffin says to his daughter Meg that he was going to stop treating her badly "cause I'm a worse father than Abraham." Then there's a cutaway to a scene of Abraham and Isaac walking down a mountain, Abraham with a knife in his hand, and Isaac says: "You wanna tell me what the f**k THAT was!? (Season 6: Episode: Peter's Daughter) You can watch it here:
As irreverent as that is, in a way, it almost sums up my current take on the akedah, the story of the binding of Isaac, which we read near the end of this week's parasha, Vayeira. And it is not only Isaac who asks this question. It is all of us, when we encounter this troubling text. We rationalize it in all sorts of ways. "It was a test, just as the Torah says." If G"d was indeed testing Avraham, did Avraham pass or fail? There's no unanimity on that answer.
G"d rewards Avraham for his faithfulness. "Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, Your favored one, I will bestow My blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore." This would seem to indicate that Avraham passed the test, but can we be sure?

Why was Avraham rewarded? Was it for blindly obeying G"ds request? Was it for ignoring his own inner conscience? Was Avraham troubled by what G"d was asking of him? There's no such indication in the text. Was Avraham so sure in his heart and mind that G"d would not require him to go through with this act?

Perhaps G"d's purpose in this test was to see if Avraham would develop a crisis of conscience. Perhaps G"d was seeing if Avraham could put aside selfish and personal feelings.

Perhaps G"d was just being mean, toying with Avraham.

Perhaps G"d was naive.

So imagine another cutaway scene from Family Guy (or the Simpsons, or whatever your favorite irreverent social commentary cartoon is.) (If you're not familiar with the show, you might miss the inside jokes, but what the hey.)

Prologue – Up In Heaven
G"d, talking to self: OK. OK. Let's see. I need to test this Avraham to see if he is the right one of My creations to bring knowledge of Me to the world. He's already baffled me. When I asked him to just pick up and move, he went. when I revealed my plans to destroy S'dom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, he argued. Which is the real Avraham? The blind obedient one, or the one who cares so much for his fellow human beings that he would argue with Me? I need to find out. What could I ask him to do? Kill his wife? After all, she did scoff at my power to make Avraham's seed potent enough to get her pregnant. Wait-that's it! His seed. I'll ask him to kill his son Isaac for me. Will he do it? Will he argue with me, beg, plead? This could be interesting.
[Scene – Somewhere near the terebinths at Mamre]

: Hey, Abie baby.

(aka Peter Griffin): Yo, present.

: Take your son...

: I got two. Which one You mean? Pick one.

: Your favorite son

: Hey, I love both my sons

, [to self:] Jesus H. Christ! Hey, there's an idea....oh wait, where was I. Oh yes. Explaining the obvious.

[to Avraham:] Yitzchak (under G"ds breath: "you twit!")

: Yeah. OK. Gotcha. Now what?

: Go to the land of Moriah...

: Y'know, I heard they call the wind Moria...

[G"d paces, throws arms up in the fair, pounds self on head.]

: I'll do the punning around here, buddy. Now, as I said. Go to the land of Moria (pause, waiting to see if Avraham will interrupt again)...and offer Yitzchak as a burnt offering on a high place I'll show you.

: Oh, are we back to that "I'll tell you when you get there" sh*t again?

[G"d stomps off, frustrated.]

[Cut to new scene near Abraham’s encampment]

[Avraham is shown saddling his ass.]

Voiceover-Peter Griffin: (laughing.) His ass!

(to Yitzchak): OK, we're going on a little trip

(aka Chrfis Griffin): Where?

: Don't you give me that smart-mouth "where?" crap again. Just grab yer stuff and let's head out.....for some fishin'. OK? There, I said it. We're going fishing.

: Sounds fishy to me.

: Look, just bring me an axe, will you?

[Yitzchak looks puzzled, but goes off and returns with an ax which he gives to Avraham. Avraham splits some wood, and gathers it up into a bundle.]

(to servant:) You! Boy! You're coming with us.

Herbert the Pervert
from Family Guy: And bring your handsome young friend over there, too

: What? (shrugs) Whatever. You both come.

[makes several attempts to get on his ass. Finally, atop his beast, he says:] Asses ho!

[Avraham, Yitzchak and two young male servants head off.]

[Cutaway to scene of Herbert following along behind

[Cutaway to scene of Mort standing in front of a synagogue.] Mort: As a representative of the Jewish people, I want to say this cartoon in no way portrays the ancient legends of my faith in an accurate manner. That is all. Thank You. (calling offstage) Coming, Muriel.

[Fade to another scene of Avraham, Yitzchak and the two servants traveling, followed by Herbert.]

(voice of Adam West): On the third day, Avraham looked up and saw the place from afar.

[Scene shows a distant mountain with a huge, flashing finger-pointing sign in the heavens pointing down at it reading "This Is It"]

Voice of Stewie Griffin: Wait a minute. How did Abraham know this was the place?

Voice of Brian Griffin: Well, obviously G"d must have told him.

Voice of Stewie Griffin: But the Bible doesn't say that.

Voice of Brian Griffin: What do I look like, a rabbi? Just shuddup and watch.

[Avraham dismounts from his ass.]

(to the two servants): You stay here and watch my ass!

(servants giggle)

: I'm just gonna go up there with my son and we're gonna....uh......worship, yeah, that's it worship. (spoken quickly) And then we'll be back.

(to Yitzchak:) Yo, Yitz, follow me.

[Yitzchak dismounts, Avraham walks over to him with the wood and straps it on to Yitzchak's back.]

: Hey! I thought we were going fishing!

(dissembling): Well, first we ought to say "Thank You" to the Big Kahuna, and pray for a good catch, right?

(hesitantly:) Uh, I dunno Dad.

: Be a man, my son!

[Avraham tries to give Yitzchak a big swat on the back, but his hand hits the wood, hurting him. Overly prolonged scene of Avraham writhing in pain.]

[Then, just as suddenly, Avraham stops, stands up and says to Yitzchak]: OK, let's go.

[Avraham and Yitzchak head out up the mountain. Cut to Herbert the Pervert viewing from a distance. He moves a little towards the servants, slightly hiding himself behind a tree.]

: Oh boys! Come here. I've got an ass that needs saddling too!

[The two servants exchange glances, shrug, and run towards Herbert.]

[Cut to scene of Avraham and Yitzchak walking up the mountain.]

: Yo, Dad! I got the wood, and you got the knife and the firestone, but where's the sheep for the offering?

[Quick cutaway to scene of sheep that were grazing suddenly looking up, then back to Avraham and Yitzchak scene.]

: Don't you worry 'bout a thing. (clearly thinking fast) Uh...(then an idea strikes him, and he slyly says): G"d will provide for the sheep my son.

: Whatever!

[Cut to scene back at Avraham's home. Sarah (played by Lois) walks in to an empty room.]

: Abie? Yitz? Now where have those two gone off to now? Oh, well. While the hubby's away, the wifey will play.

[Cutaway to a scene of Sarah playing the Egyptian game Senet with some of the female servants.]

[Cut to scene on top of mountain. Yitzchak is already there. We hear panting in the distance. Slowly, Avraham comes into view, slowly dragging himself up the mountain.]

: C'mon Dad. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can

(under his breath); Oh, you just wait until I get up there....

[Yitzchak continues to goad and Tease Avraham. Finally, Avraham arrives and collapses. Fade to black.]

[Scene from Abraham's perspective lying on the ground - his eyes flicker open to see Yitzchak standing over him with a knife, as if he is about to strike.]

[Scene shifts to normal perspective. Yitzchak helps Avraham up and says]: Here Dad, you're gonna need this more than I.

(under his breath:) Shows what little you know.

[Avraham and Yitzchak gather stones and build a little altar. They put the wood upon it, and lay the firestone and knife nearby.]

: Nu? where's the sheep Dad.

[Avraham turns and grins broadly at Yitzchak.]

: Dad? (getting nervous) Dad? Dad!

[Avraham tackles Yitzchak, gags him, and with (overly-prolonged and) great effort, lifts him onto the altar. He stops, breathes deeply. Lost in thought for a moment, he asks himself] "I wonder what Sarah's up to at this moment?"

[Cutaway to scene showing Sarah running around an ancient biblical supermarket, buying all sorts of treif products, while Quagmire stalks her. Sound: Benny Hill theme song.]

[Back to Avraham and Yitzchak scene.]

Avraham: I can't believe I have to do this frickin' thing. Somebody, give me a sign.

[Cutaway to Evil Monkey from Family Guy pointing at knife, then back to Avraham.]

: (with nervous giggle, as he picks up the knife) Uh, are there any other signs out there?

[Cutaway to scene of sheep again-they were all looking up, and now quickly start grazing again, heads down. Then back to Avraham.]

: Oh crap! Guess I gotta do this thing.

[Avraham raises the knife and prepares to strike Yitzchak. Just then, a
voice (Seth McFarlane) cries (in a stage whisper)]: Avraham. (pause, then repeated a little louder) Avraham. (pause, then screaming) Avraham!

(drops the knife:) Oh crap! Yeah, I'm here. Who's that?

: Do not raise a hand against the boy...

: Can I start the fire now?

(screaming:) Don't do anything to him, you idiot! (regaining his composure) For now I know that your fear the Lord, since you have not withheld your son, your favorite son, from Me.

[Angel, played by Bruce, steps into scene.]

: Hey, didn't I see you back at Lot's place?

(sheepishly): You got me. That was me! (Angel walks over and puts his arm around Avraham.)

(to Angel): So lemme ask you something? Are an angel, or are you G"d? I'm a little confused about that.

: To tell the truth, I'm as confused as you, brother. But never you mind that. Look up.

[Avraham looks up, see nothing unusual.]

: What?

: See that?

: See what?

[turns to look at where sheep should be caught in thicket and says]: Oh crap. Excuse me a minute.

[The two old-timey Gay-90's guys in their barbershop quartet outfits and their piano pass through the scene playing that silly little melody to stall for time.]

The non piano-playing Old Timey Guy says: Just killin' time folks, just killin' time.

[Cutaway to scene showing Angel dragging a very reluctant sheep into the thicket.]

[Cut back to repeat of the old-timey guys.]

[Cut back to Angel and Avraham]

: OK. Now look up.

[Avraham looks up, and applauds and makes silly childish noises.]

: Well? (pause )

: Yes

: Well? (pause)

: Where? I could sure use a drink.

G"d's voice
: I said I'll do the punning

(nervous chuckle): Sorry.

: (clears throat) (pause) (clears throat louder) (finally, in exasperation) Go get the sheep, stupid!

: Oh. Oh. Yeah. Right.

[Avraham goes to get the sheep. In the background, the Angel unbinds Yitzchak, who runs off. Avraham puts the sheep upon the altar.]

[Cutaway to scene of other sheep putting the hooves over their hearts in salute, then back to Avraham scene.]

[Avraham, while the sheep burns, starts to look around.]

: (does a Julie Andrews sweep from the start of sound of Music] Wow. I never realized what a nice view it is from up here. Sheesh! Look at that. Just beautiful. Y'know, I think I'll call this place Adonai-yireh, which, as you know, means "scenic view."

: (off camera) By Myself I swear, the...

: Whaa? who said that?

Angel's voice
: It's me, Abie baby.

: Ah, I knew it. You are G"d.

Angel's voice
: I is what I is, baby.

: Cool!

, now in G"d's voice: Because you have done this, and not withheld your son (pause) your favorite son (pause) (releases a breath) I will bestow My blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore."

: Cool! (starts walking off)

: And your descendants shall seize the gates of their foes. All......(notices Avraham is heading away) Hey, wait a minute, there's more.

: Gotta go.

: (very fast, in one breath) All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed My command."

(Underneath G"d's dialogue, Avraham is saying "Yeah, that's nice. Gotta run., Very nice. Thank You. See ya. etc.)

: And so Avraham returned to his servants

Voice of Stewie Griffin: But where's Yitzchak? Didn't he go back with Avraham?

Voice of Brian Griffin: It doesn't say in the bible. Nobody's really sure.

Voice of Stewie Griffin: Hmm. I wonder what happened to him

[Cut to a scene in a cave. Yitzchak and Ishmael (played by Cleveland) are sitting around smoking hookahs. They 're obviously high. Very Cheech & Chong-ish in style.]

: And then, and then, (laugh) get this, get this...daddy tries to kill me?

: Get outta here! No way man!

: Way, man. Way!

Just then, Hagar (played by Meg) walks in.

: Boys, I gotta surprise for you! Oh, just look at the two of you. Smoking those hookahs again. Fat chance either of you two fathering a great nation!

: Funny, ma! So what's the surprise?

: Well, you know how, Avraham (under her breath) May he die the death of a thousands plagues...(resuming) he always talked about welcoming the strangers and travelers? Well there's a stranger outside..

Herbert the Pervert
  (peeking through curtain at entrance to cave:) Hello, boys....

[Cut to just outside Sarah’s tent. There is light inside, and Sarah’s shadow can be seen as she undresses for the night.]

: Giggity…

[Blackout. Roll credits and theme music.]

(With apologies to Seth McFarlane.)

Silly? Yes! Irreverent? Yes! Thought-provoking? You be the judge.

Shabbat Shalom,


©2014 (portions ©2008) by Adrian A. Durlester

Other Musings on this Parasha:

Vayeira 5774–Plainly Spoken (Redux & Revised from 5762)
Vayera 5773 - Do Your Own Unpacking
Vayera 5772 - Well?
Vayera 5771 - Density
Vayera 5770 - Not Even Ten?
Vayera 5767-Revised 5759-Whoops! (or Non-Linear Thinking)
Vayera 5766-The Price of Giving
Vayera 5765-From the Journal of Lot Pt. II
Vayera 5762-Plainly Spoken
Vayera 5760/5761-More From the "Journal of Lot"
Vayera 5759-Whoops! (or "Non-Linear Thinking?")
Vayera 5757-Technical Difficulties