Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, in his essay “Where Is The Love? The Cost Of Sacrifice” (Sept. 23), accepts the common interpretation of the Akedah: that Abraham was ready to obey God no matter what. I have always been struck by a discrepancy in the account: God tells Abraham directly to sacrifice Isaac, but an angel, not God, tells him to stop. It seems to me that the Akedah is about a lie Abraham told. He made up a story about the angel so that he wouldn’t have to kill Isaac.
We know from the Bible, 3 Kings 17:31, for example, that the neighboring tribes practiced child sacrifice. We know that the prophet Jeremiah specifically told the children of Israel to stop this horrible practice (7:31). To this day, we practice the custom of pidyon ha-ben, to redeem a first-born son so that he won’t have to be sacrificed.
Abraham disobeyed God. By doing so, he created Judaism — a new religion that rejected child sacrifice.