Elegy for a Special Kid

Zohar Atkins

I.I remember the day Isaac came into my classroom,out of breath with excitement.'I can't do tomorrow's homework —I'm going to Mount Moriah!'He flashed his father's illegible note.There were many things that made him a special kidHis neck was shaped like a pill.His head looked like an amulet.His skin was translucent.II.'If the story of Isaac teaches us anythingit's that every knife is a complimentand the greatest sacrifice of all is to throw it away.'My analyst reads from his new book, Isaacat the release party.'To disregard evidence of our worthin favor of a faith that it does not depend on being chosen —for death as for recognition —is to become more and less than a hero —is to become free.'I wonder how being named Isaac led himto become a self-described healerand whether the positive coverage will help or hurt him.III.I once read a Midrashthat Abraham offered Isaac the knifeand started to bind himself on the altar.But the thought of killing his father was too much.So Isaac removed the binding and placed himself in his stead.This explains why there was no resistance. Why,when Isaac got up, there were no bruises.And why the ram seemed to die, of its own willbefore the knife could fall.

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Rabbi Dr. Zohar Atkins is the author of Nineveh (Carcanet, 2019) and Unframing Existence (Palgrave, 2018)He is the Founder of Etz Hasadeh and a Fellow at the Hartman Institute of North America. Zohar writes a weekly Torah commentary and a daily question. He is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award for Poetry.

May-June 2020


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