Friday, August 24, 2007

Abraham! Abraham! Kierkegaard And The Hasidim On The Binding Of Isaac

Jerome I. Gellman, Ashgate Publishing, 2003

This small book is a gem, containing several essays addressing unusual Hasidic approaches to understanding the Akeidah, contrasting them particularly with the famous ‘teleological suspension of the ethical’ approach of Kierkegaard. Some of the essays are updated version of Professor Gellman’s earlier material in ‘the fear, the trembling and the fire’, but others are completely new. The central part of the book is devoted to Gellman’s main thesis – the similarity between the approaches of the 19th century Ishbitzer Rebbe and Kierkegaard. This might be summarised by the attitude to what Gellman calls ‘sinning at God’s behest’. In addition, the book contains fascinating studies on the attitude to Rabbi Nahman of Breslov to the Akeidah, some creative Midrashic readings and a study of some modern thinkers, such as Yeshayahu Leibowitz and David Hartman.

Abraham! Abraham!