Jonah was in the belly of a fish for 3 days. Then he found the words to pray to God. He said, “Karati mitzarah li el-Adonai va’ya’ah’nei’ni; mibeten Sheol shivati, shamatah koli.” “I called out to Adonai in my distress, and God answered me; I cried out from the belly of the netherworld, and You heard my voice.”
Artistic representations of the Akeidah, Genesis 22:1-19, number in the thousands. And although the binding of Isaac is perhaps not so frequently highlighted in children’s bible books, it is discussed in countless literary works. Of course, this in part reflects the deep significance this story holds in not just the Jewish, but in the Muslim and Christian traditions. In the Quran, it is told with Ishmael, rather than Isaac, as the son God chooses for the sacrifice. And of course in Christian tradition the story is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus.
Hagar and her son were dying. Thrown out from their home at Sarah’s bidding, abandoned in the wilderness, and dying of thirst. Unable to watch her child die, Hagar separated herself from him, and wept. And then something changed. Within a few verses our story changes from Ishmael’s seemingly inevitable death to him becoming the ancestor of a great nation. So what happened that enabled such dramatic change?
Shana Tova and Gamar Chatimah Tovah. My name is Oren Goldenberg. I am the chair of the fundraising committee and have been a member of the board at the downtown synagogue for the past 11 years. I never thought that I would be standing here. I never thought I would be that person asking you for money on Yom Kippur. I always thought it was tacky. But here I am. Hineni.
This coming week will end the period of shloshim for Rabbi Dr. Aaron Panken, President of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He was a formidable Talmud scholar, a visionary seminary president, and a passionate advocate for social justice. He is mourned by leaders across the spectrum of Jewish life, throughout the academic world, by his loving family, and by his many students. It is astounding how many lives he touched, and touched deeply.