The Titanic Sacrifice of the Ram, By Zachary Orenstein

The images that the event of Akeidat Yitzchak generally conjure are Avraham’s compliance, Yitzchak’s selflessness, and their unity in order to fulfill the ultimate sacrifice for God. However, the day that is more focused on the Akeida than any other is called Yom Teruah and its climax is the sounding of the shofar; Avraham’s sacrifice of the ram steals the show.[1] This oddity is exaggerated when looking at how the Torah records the sudden change in what is being offered. “Vayeilech Avraham vayikach et ha’ayil vaya’aleihu li’olah tachat binno- Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.״ (Genesis 22:13) The word the Torah uses for “in place of” is “tachat.” Nachama Lebowitz explains based on the Benno Jacob’s reading of Ayin tachat ayin – an eye for an eye, that from many of the places where the word tachat is used in Tanach, it is clear that it implies replacement or compensation for something lost. The argument by “ayin tachat ayin” is that even in Pshat it cannot be about revenge, but rather it has to be describing a way to replace the eye; thus, Chazzal say that the Torah is commanding monetary compensation to replace at least one function of the eye, which is helping to make a living. If this is true, then how could the Torah use the word “tachat” to describe replacing the sacrifice of Yitzchak with the sacrifice of a ram? How could sacrificing an animal begin to compare to the act of sacrificing a child such that it could be referred to with the terminology of a valid compensation?

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