Modern Day Abraham

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(Image courtesy of blogs.wsj.com)

“An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man carried a chicken in one hand and his
daughter in the other during Kaparot, where chickens are slaughtered as a
symbolic gesture of atonement, in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood
Tuesday” (Ammar Awad/Reuters).

While perusing the Photos of the Day on the Wall Street Journal entry in the Pulse app on my tablet, I saw this photograph.  My first thought was, “Why would you carry a child like that!?”  When I stared at the photo more, I started to wonder about what I was looking at.  Is that dried blood on the wall behind him?  Is this taken where he purchased that chicken intended for sacrifice, or is this where he intends to slaughter it?  He seems to be carrying the chicken and the child the same way.  Would he be carrying that child like that if she was a boy?  How is that little girl so calm?  She doesn’t look like she’s been crying or that she fears she’s about to be punished.  There’s an odd serenity on her face considering that she’s being carried like livestock.

After my mind disgorged all these questions, I sat in silence and felt like I might have seen this somewhere, but where?  Then it hit me.  I’ve seen this in my head.  I have a funny way of seeing Abraham hauling Isaac up to that mountain intending to sacrifice him as God has asked.  He’s got this donkey on one side and Isaac on the other plodding along blissfully unaware.  Then Abraham leaves behind the donkey and the two men he’s brought with him, takes Isaac, and heads off by themselves to do what must be done (Genesis 22:5).  Abraham frees his hands and takes along only what is necessary, namely the boy.

Does this man with chicken and child feel the conflict of taking his child with him to fulfill the religious demand for the chicken?  Why take the child with you if your hands are tied up with the animal?  Maybe this man is a modern day Abraham to me mostly because he leaves me with more questions than answers.  Like Abraham, this man makes me want to know what he’s thinking, but I have no answers only questions.  There was once a boy carried up a mountain to a frightful fate.  Where will this little girl be carried?  Is she no more precious than the chicken needed for religious observance?  Maybe not in that father’s eyes, but in her heavenly Father’s eyes, she most assuredly is.

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