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The Rabin Assassination and the Binding of Isaac: A powerful sermon by HUC Rabbinical Student Osnat Elder

To commemorate the  22nd anniversary of the Rabin assassination which falls this week, I am posting here a sermon by HUC rabbinical student Osnat Elder, a powerful and poetic call to action for Jewish educators and thinkers, which she delivered this week to the rabbinical school. Translation into English is mine. Original Hebrew posted at the bottom.  And this dark matter was imprinted with stains of light And they did not make a sound, and not even a whisper passed through them And they are like the oil of myrrh, flowing and sprinkling from the rubbish.  -- Dahlia Ravikovitch And at midnight, a heavy silence fell on the square, like the heavens before a storm, like a partition without a partner. The square that lost its name on that long and awful night, that held thousands of candles flickering sparks of broken hope, and as they extinguished, the left behind a smooth and colorful platform of melted wax. Weeks later they were still being kindled with dedication, love, and the knowledge that only they would be able to prevent the next earthquake – even though they did not prevent the first one. This was the time of the still mourning, as if the cover of words that preceded it was already gone, and new words for processing the trauma had not yet been found. It was the knowledge that the still, small voice is the voice of compassion and the voice of sanity and the voice of culture and language. But noises, they have their own energy, and it wasn’t long before the voices of hate and violence and incitement were heard once again. And twenty years after the first earthquake (noise, ra’ash), Shira Banki was murdered.  The Torah portion Vayera is also quaking (ro’esh). The quake (noise) from the complicated relationship between Abraham and Sara, in its deafening silence, as if she is accustomed to being taken to the chambers of foreign kings who do what they please with her. And her striking absence while her son, her only son, the one she loved, becomes a victim of the blind belief of the king of belief, Abraham.  Another quake is the strange fatherhood of Lot towards his daughters. The way he sacrifices their innocence, their essence, their very beings, in order to welcome strangers, in order to soothe with the angry mob outside his house. There are those who say that his daughters returned him an eye for an eye, so to speak, that when he was lying drunk and naked in the cave outside of Sodom, they raped him night after night in order to generate his offspring.  There is nothing sicker and more perverted than their actions, since as soon as the boundaries were blurred, so too were lost the distinctions between right and wrong, between permitted and forbidden, between the personal and the political – and as soon as everything was permitted to everyone, their actions could be justified within the text, too. Only their mother, who...

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