Irrational Laws?
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Reader: I have a question. In one of the articles on your web site you mention the Ibn Ezra who says (Shemos 20:1) that if a commandment goes against rationality then we cannot accept it but must explain it some other way. I was wondering how this can fit with God's commandment to Avraham to sacrifice his son. How could Avraham have accepted this commandment at face value if it goes against rationality. It is no worse than the verse the Ibn Ezra brings down of "U'maltem es orlas levavchem".
Mesora: Your question is very good.
There is one distinction I would make. Regarding the Ibn Ezra, if a command FOR ALL JEWS would exist as "u'maltem", taken literally, "cut out your hearts", this would cause the end of Jewish people, a direct contradiction that Jewish people should exist to perfect themselves. Additionally, the second half of that verse reads, "and your necks shall no longer be stiff". This means that the command of "circumcising the foreskins of your hearts" must result in an improvement in man's nature, where he is no longer stubborn. Clearly, the command of "circumcising the foreskins of your hearts" is not a directive to kill ourselves, but rather to improve our ethics - to eradicate our stubborn nature in connection with Torah adherence.
A command to Abraham to slay his son doesn't contradict anything. You might say it contradicts God's very promise to make Abraham's seed as numerous as the stars and the sands. Perhaps Abraham's greatness is testified by his silence when commanded he slaughter his son. Abraham did not feel God must rely on Isaac to achieve His goals of populating Abraham's seed. There was no contradiction in Abraham's mind. Abraham knew that God's capabilities are boundless. Abraham also felt ignorant of how such a command would be a good, and didn't allow his ignorance to present a question on God's abilities. He therefore selected to follow God's decree and attempt to slaughter Isaac.
This last idea is not my own, I heard it from a teacher.

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