Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Accepting the truth from Alan Dershowitz's daughter

On page 123 of The Genesis of Justice: 10 Stories of Biblical Injustice That Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Morality and Law (Chapter 6: Abraham Commits Attempted Murder--and Is Praised), Alan Dershowitz explores the aqedah:
(My ten-year-old daughter believes that Abraham was conflicted and that the angel represents his "better instinct" [yetzer ha-tov], which eventually prevailed. If so, the "angel" was an internal, rather than an external, source.)
Years ago I read this book and quite liked this thought. So, as recounted earlier on my sidebar I conducted a little experiment. In a discussion with a certain respected rosh yeshiva I broached this peshat, worded appropriately, and without revealing its source. The RY was modeh al ha-emes. Yes, its a nice peshat.

That surprised me. After all, how could Alan Dershowitz's ten year old daughter have anything to contribute to parshanut? And thus I learned a lesson: Accept the truth, whatever its source.

Yes, this dictum takes one into uncharted waters. After all how does one recognize what is true? Don't people often accept that which isn't true thinking that it is? Good questions.

In any case, this Hirhurim post goes all R. Joseph Hertz-y, citing Wicke, Childs, Fretheim, Cassuto, Sarna and others who likely wouldn't make it onto the shelves of a bet midrash. Unsurprisingly, in the comments section the question of whether one can cite Wickes, Childs and Fretheim was raised. Then the question of whether their peshats are good even if they are the same as in classical sources was raised. And finally, whether one can cite the Abarbanel was raised. Go figure.

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