Zev Levi

The binding of the child: A short story

And it was after these things, the rabbi was tested.

And the spirit of the Talmud said to him, “Rabbi.”

And he said, “Here I am.”

And it said, “Take the child. The child in your flock. The only one who is different.… and sacrifice him.”

But the rabbi knew the story. “What about the biblical episode that teaches that we’re not supposed to kill our kids?” he asked.

And the Talmud responded, “Do not kill him. Sacrifice him, for he will have questions the others won’t have. He will have problems the others won’t have. And people who need things explained to them aren’t worthy of the explanation.

So convince his parents to send him to your class, but make him feel like a burden there. Demand his help, but don’t acknowledge when he gives it. Make no place for him, but also make sure there’s nowhere else for him to find place.

Time wasted on his education will be time lost from educating your followers to walk in the way of the sacred Talmud.”

“Don’t you mean the sacred Torah?”

“What?! It is not in heaven! The book specifically states that when God and the book disagree, follow the book. That was made clear by jumping trees and moving walls and everything. Oy vey.

If the child can’t work out social cues from who is at fault when a camel (trespassing with a load of flammable grain) falls into a shallow pit and squashes a runaway chicken, there’s really no hope for the young lad.

Just… sacrifice him.”

And so the rabbi got up early in the morning. Every morning. And he prepared his teachings and took the local young lads on a journey through the text. And the child was with them too.

And the child came to ask the rabbi how to understand the text. How much of himself was evil? How much of his personality should he flatten? And the rabbi lifted his eyes and saw the child as distant. The rabbi stopped the class journey and said to the child, “You wait here, like a donkey, and me and the other lads will continue on.” And with a fiery gaze and those cutting words, the rabbi took the burden of the sacrifice and placed it on the child.

And the child said, “Rabbi.” And the rabbi said, “Sorry, I’m unavailable. I’m a busy man.” And the child did not ask him why there needed to be a sacrifice because … maybe it was obvious? Maybe he deserved it? Maybe it was his fault? Maybe it was all in his mind? A righteous rabbi surely wouldn’t be full of so much disdain without just cause.

The child’s self doubt formed the sacrificial altar. And his desperation bound him. He looked around and saw that he was laid upon the altar.

And the rabbi turned his hand to other things. And with a dismissive shrug, the sacrifice was offered.

After these things, the rabbi looked up and saw a nice shofar that he had bought for Yom Kippur.

About the Author
Zev Levi is an Australian oleh cataloging how his opinions on local issues change and why.
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