Word of the Week: Akedah

akedah / aqueda / #akedah

Etymology here.

The word akedah originates in the book of Genesis (Beresheit) when  Abraham is commanded to bind his son Isaac. The binding of Isaac, akedah, is a core concept that spans Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (Emily Bogle/NPR)
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (Emily Bogle/NPR)

This word is more studied, discussed, and written about than almost any other in Israel, not only as a religious concept, but as an important cultural term. Author Jonathan Safran Foer has brought the concept of akedah into the popular realm in the US with his new novel “Here I Am” – titled after Abraham’s response of “hineni,” literally “here I am,” when God calls out to him to bind his son.

When reading at the Coolidge Theater in early September, Foer smiled boyishly as he read a section that intrigued the packed house: a character heads to the urinal, and pees next to a man that he is fairly certain is Steven Spielberg (now imagine the the admit-you-love-it-childlike humor that ensues).

While there is no video proof of this giggle inducing moment, here is an NPR review that will illuminate the books modern take on the akedah.