Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thought on the Parasha

Torat Imekha

Rabbi Dov Linzer

In the Torah story of Avraham’s servant and his interaction with Rivka, her brother, and her mother, we saw that Padan Aram was a society with an unusual family structure. As a matrilineal society, households were comprised of the children of the same mother, and the head of the household was the oldest brother, perhaps at times working in conjunction with the matriarch. Although initially on a more subtle level, we encounter these differing societal realities again this week when Yaakov flees to Padan Aram to escape Esav and to seek a wife.

When Yaakov first encounters Rachel, it is Lavan, her father, who is the head of the family. This may suggest that the normal patriarchal configuration was operating, but this is not necessarily the case. Let us not forget that Lavan was the head of the family from the time that Rivka had been living there. Also, it is possible that Lavan’s wife had died and that Rachel and Leah had no older brothers, thus leaving Lavan as head of the household (cf. Rashi, 29:12 and 30:27).

The significant evidence pointing to the matrilineal structure is the repeated reference to Lavan as Yaakov’s mother’s brother and, conversely, to Yaakov as Lavan’s sister’s son. This is repeated three times in one verse (29:10) and five to six times in verses 10–13, as well as the earlier references in 28:2 and 5. Consider what this means in a matrilineal society – as Lavan’s sister, Rivka is considered part of the family of which he is the head. Her children, then, are ultimately part of his family. Yaakov is thus a quasi-son to Lavan. Hence, Lavan’s declaration, “Behold you are my flesh and bones.”

We now also understand the force of Lavan’s claim when he catches up with Yaakov, fleeing to return to Canaan: “The daughters are my daughters and the sons are my sons and the flocks are my flocks; all that you see is mine” (31:43). This claim seems totally baseless until we realize that, from the matrilineal perspective, Yaakov was a member of his household, and thus, Yaakov’s children and his wealth were, ultimately, all Lavan’s.

It is also worth noting the frequent occurrence of the word “brother” in this parasha when referring to Lavan’s relationship with Yaakov, Lavan’s family members, and Yaakov’s family members (see 29:12, 15; 31:23, 25, 32, 37, 46, 54). This is a strong indicator that the family was organized more laterally than vertically, that is, through the brother rather than through father.

All of this helps us to understand the events surrounding Yaakov’s decision to return to his ancestral home. Once he realizes that it is time to leave, he calls Rachel and Leah out to the field to solicit their opinion (31:4). This is, in itself, unusual. While Avraham listened to Sarah and Yitzchak listened to Rivkah when they spoke up, this is our first example of a husband soliciting his wife’s (or wives’) opinion. Of course, given the role of women in this society, this makes sense. What also makes sense, as we have seen, is the difficulty that he faces in extracting himself from Padan Aram. Here he is part of his wives’ household and part of Lavan’s household as his nephew. Thus he is not in a position to bring them back with him to Canaan, his – the husband’s – country.

The response of Rachel and Leah, perhaps the most puzzling part of this narrative, can now also be explained:

And Rachel and Leah answered and said unto him, “Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father's house? Are we not counted of him strangers for he has sold us, and has quite devoured also our money?”  (31:14-15).

We may first note that Rachel and Leah are outraged that it is clear that they will be denied a portion in their father’s estate. They are obviously working on the assumption that they are fundamentally entitled to a portion of the inheritance. But why is this so? It was not until hundreds of years later, when the daughters of Tzlafchad complained to Moshe, that daughters were sometimes (in the absence of sons) considered heirs to their father’s estate. Clearly, in Padan Aram, things were different and daughters would inherit, not only sons.

They are also outraged that Lavan has sold them. What Lavan has done, they are saying, in receiving the fourteen years of labor from Yaakov, was not to marry them off, but to sell them for a price, to treat them as mere property. Again we may again ask – what is so unusual about this? The Torah, in many places refers to a mohar that was given from the groom to the father of the bride as a means of effecting the marriage with this woman (see Shemot 22:15-16). This was a large sum of money (50 shekel, see Devarim 22:29) and is understood by many scholars as a bride price, that is, a purchase price paid to the father. Assuming this is the correct meaning of the institution of mohar and that it was the norm, why are they so offended with having been treated this way?

The answer again lies in the different nature of their society. Such might very well be the practice in patriarchal societies, where women did not have a say and could be treated at times like property. This however was not the case here. Remember that Rivkah was asked her opinion about whether she wanted to marry Yitzchak. Also remember that, while Avraham’s servant did give gifts to Rivkah’s mother and brother, he did not give them a bride price. Thus, to ask for and receive a bride price was decidedly against the norms of their society, and they rightly objected to this treatment.

This then brings us to the last part of their statement. What did they mean when they said that Lavan had devoured their money? How is this different than stating that he had sold them? The answer lies in understanding that the mohar could function in two ways. In some societies it was undoubtedly a bride price, whereas in others it may have functioned as a proto-ketuvah, money held for the sake of the wife, money on which she could live in case her husband died or divorced her. In fact, Rashi understands this to be the general meaning of mohar in the Torah (Shemot, 22:15), and although that is debatable (Ramban, ad. loc.), it certainly served for the Rabbis as a model for the Rabbinic ketuvah (whose value was set at 200 zuz, the equivalent of the Biblical 50 shekel). In fact, the Yerushalmi (Ketuvot, 8:11) explains that the ketuvah was originally given up front to the father to hold onto, in escrow, for the bride, and only at a later stage did it become an outstanding debt of the husband to the wife.

It is possible, then, that the work that Yaakov did for Lavan was not seen initially by Rachel and Leah as a purchase of them. Perhaps it was a proto-ketuvah mohar; perhaps it would be banked for them for their future benefit. What made it clear that this was not the case was what Lavan had done with the money: he used it for himself! If that’s what he did, then it is clear that this was not ketuvah money but rather a purchase price. In fact, the JPS translation phrases it exactly this way: “… that he has sold us and used up our purchase price.” We know that he has sold us because he pocketed the money.

This explanation also clarifies the meaning of the word nachriyot, usually translated as “strangers.” The word nachri, however, has another meaning, “foreigner.” What they are saying is clear: Our father, Lavan, is treating us like foreigners, like we are from a different country, from a society which is patriarchal, from a society in which we have no rights. This is evident from the fact that he has sold us, the type of thing done to daughters in a patriarchal society. Given that, he will likewise disinherit us, again applying to us the rules that govern women in a foreign, patriarchal society.

If this is how things stand, Rachel and Leah are saying to Yaakov, then the wealth that you have earned is yours, and you are free to return to your land. You and your property are not, in this patriarchal figuring, a part of Lavan’s household. And as for us, if we are anyway being treated as members of a patriarchal society, then there is nothing keeping us here; we might as well go with you to the land of Canaan.”

So begins Yaakov’s return to Canaan. And while Yaakov was returning to a very different type of society than Padan Aram, an interesting hybridization was beginning. For the exact rights that Rachel and Leah felt robbed of – the right to inherit, the right to a ketuvah, and the right to participate in marriage instead of being sold into it – would ultimately become a part of the halakhic system, a part of our mesorah, a mesoret avot and a mesoret imahot, a tradition of our fathers and a tradition of our mothers.

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Thought on the Parasha

Yitzchak’s story seems to be the major theme of this week’s parasha. Until now, the stories involving Yitzchak have been stories about other people – Avraham offering him up at the akeida and Avraham’s servant finding a wife for him. Now it is finally his turn to write his own story.

Or so it would seem. The first verse tells us what this story will be – v’ela toldot Yitzchak ben Avraham, Avraham holid et Yitzchak, “These are the generations [or ‘stories’] of Yitzchak the son of Avraham, Avraham sired Yitzchak.” The story of Yitzchak is that he is Avraham’s son; he will live his life as a continuation of Avraham. He prays for a son just as Avraham beseeched God for a son; as a result of a famine he, like Avraham, goes into a foreign land, not Egypt as God had prevented this, but the land of the Plishtim. Like Avraham he tells the people of the land that his wife is his sister; like Avraham his wife is taken by the local ruler and trouble ensues. He quarrels with the Plishtim over ownership of the wells just like Avraham; he makes a covenant with Avimelekh just like Avraham; and he spends a lot of time re-digging the wells that Avraham dug. And then that is it. His story is over, and we move on to the story of Yaakov and Esav.

There is little that is new or innovative in Yitzchak’s life. He chose not to set out on his own but to continue in the way of Avraham. It is easy to dismiss such a life as mundane and meaningless, but in fact, without Yitzchak we would not have survived. Yitzchak took all of Avraham’s creativity, all of Avraham’s innovations and vision, and he ensured its continuity. Avraham was the creator, the founder, the charismatic leader. Yitzchak was the one who took that charisma and creativity and institutionalized it.

Avraham was chesed – bursting out of bounds, overflowing with ideas and energy. Yitzchak was din – the one with bounds, with limits; the one with rules, laws, and a fixed way of doing things. Yitzchak could not go out of Canaan; he could not explore new vistas. He had to stay in his father’s land and invest all of his energies into building on the foundations that had already been laid, re-digging the wells to ensure that the water would keep on flowing.

If another Avraham had followed Avraham nothing would have progressed. All the amazing ideas, visions, and goals of Avraham would have been forgotten in the excitement and passion of the new Avraham. Re-digging the wells, doing the hard day-to-day work necessary to sustain the vision that one has inherited and bring it into the next generation can often be unexciting and thankless. Such was Yitzchak’s task. And had it not been for Yitzchak, all of Avraham’s contributions would have been lost.

As a people, we have had a few Avrahams: Rambam, the Vilna Gaon, the Ba'al Shem Tov, the Ari, Rav Soloveitchik, and Rav Kook to name a few. But had they not had Yitzchaks to follow them – to take their ideas and programs and turn them into reality, to commit to the day-to-day effort needed to bring their ideas into the next generation – then their legacies would have been lost to us. While it is exciting to be an Avraham, we have only survived as a people because of our Yitzchaks. Our Yitzchaks have not only preserved the innovations of our Avrahams, but they have preserved for us our mesorah, our tradition, and our way of life.

Yitzchaks are the backbone of our people. They are those countless mothers and fathers who have sacrificed everything so their children would have a Jewish education and a Jewish home. They are the ones who learned Torah every day not in hopes of becoming great scholars, but because it was the lifeblood of the Jewish people. They are the ones who toiled to provide for their families, who endured hardship to keep the mitzvot, who refused to give up or compromise their Jewish identity no matter the cost. They are the ones who, day-to-day, with or without hardship, have lived and continue to live a committed life of Torah and mitzvot, keeping it alive for themselves and passing it on to the next generation. They are the ones who keep re-digging the wells and who keep the water flowing.

We all need to be more thankful for the Yitzchaks in our lives, to recognize the profound value of our own work as Yitzchaks – the things we do in our daily lives as Jews to keep the Torah alive for ourselves, our families, and our communities – and to appreciate those who are truly moser nefesh for the Jewish community, ensuring that it will continue to survive from one generation to the next.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that there can be a danger in being too much of a Yitzchak. One who is only a Yitzchak repeats and entrenches the practices of the past and thus may carry on the mistakes of his predecessors, and perhaps not even mistakes per se, but strategies which made sense in the past but that are counterproductive in the present.

For while Yitzchak repeated Avraham’s successes, he also repeated his errors. Like Avraham, Yitzchak says that his wife Rivkah is his sister, and once again disaster is only narrowly averted. Yitzchak seems to act almost on reflex, repeating Avraham’s practice without stopping to learn from the past. Had he done so he could have concluded that such deception was never a good course of action, and that, as opposed to Pharaoh, it certainly was not necessary when dealing with Avimelekh.

Today we are all Yitzchaks, coming as we do thousands of years after those who laid the foundation of Judaism and those who built upon that foundation. We must do all that we can to ensure that that structure remains strong and lasts for all future generations. We must do all that we can to ensure that we and our children uphold the commitments and the ideals of our forbearers each and every day and in all that we do. But we must also ask ourselves if there have been mistakes in the past, mistakes that we can learn from and correct in the present. Have there been adaptive strategies that may have made sense in the past but are counterproductive now? Are we truly grappling with the challenges of the present and truly assessing matters as they are, not just how we have been habituated to think about them and habituated to deal with them? Only when we combine the best of Avraham and the best of Yitzchak will we truly be living up to our mission to hold fast to our tradition and to bring it thoughtfully and with integrity to deal with the challenges of the present.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Thought on the Parsha

Women with a Voice

When Avraham charges his servant to find a wife for Yitzchak, the servant asks a strange question: “Perhaps the woman will not desire to follow me to this land. Should I return your son to the land which you came from?” (Breishit, 24:5). The concern that the woman herself will resist is unexpected. Later laws in the Torah make it clear that it is the father who controls and speaks for his daughter, and yet here the father and his possible refusal to give his daughter is not a matter of concern. The possibility that Yitzchak will be asked to go live with his wife is also considered here. This is quite strange, as in patriarchal societies it would always be the woman who would be taken into the husband’s home. Certainly there must have been exceptions, but the more natural question would have been: “If she refuses, can I then find a wife from somewhere else?” It seems that Avraham’s servant knew something about that society which shaped his particular concerns, concerns about how the woman would act and what she would demand.

The place of women in Haran comes up again when the servant arrives there and interacts with Rivka and her family. After Rivka passes the test with the watering of the servant and the camels, the servant asks her, “Whose daughter are you?” She responds, “I am the daughter of Betuel, who is the son of Milkah, whom she bore to Nachor.” This manner of familial identification is a departure from the standard identification by father. A classic example is the beginning of next week’s parasha:  “These are the generations of Yitzchak the son of Avraham, Avraham begat Yitzchak” (25:19). Rivka’s answer should therefore have been, “I am the daughter of Betuel, the son of Nachor.” What is Milkah’s name doing here?

Now, Milkah actually showed up at the end of last week’s parasha as well. “After these things it was told to Avraham saying, behold Milkah has given birth to Nachor your brother” (22:20). Notice again the unusual focus on the mother. It seems that the family structure is different in Aram Naharaim. This society is not a patriarchy, where the child is identified after his or her father and the genealogies are in the form of father-son, father-son. Aram Naharaim seems to be a matriarchy, a society where the family structure is defined by the mother. (I owe this insight to Nancy Jay’s book, Throughout your Generations Forever.)

A matriarchal society is not necessarily one in which the mother held political power. There is doubt as to whether any society with women as the holders of political power has ever existed. Rather, a matriarchal society is one in which family lines are defined by matrilineal descent, one in which women do, as a result, have more rights and a greater voice. The benefit of this structuring is obvious: In such societies, the question of who a person’s father was – a question whose answer would always be in doubt – was nullified. It was the identity of the mother that mattered, and that was always known. The head of the household would not be the (presumed) father but the mother’s brother or her oldest son. Thus, while a man was at the head, the structuring around the mother removed the anxiety around paternity that existed in patriarchal societies. Consider Rashi’s comment on the verse, “Avraham begat to Yitzchak” (25:19): “Since the mockers of the generation were saying that Sarah had been impregnated by Avimelekh… God formed Yitzchak’s facial appearance to be similar to Avraham’s, so that all could testify that Avraham had sired Yitzchak.”

We can now understand why Rivka identifies herself as the granddaughter of Milkah. The servant, however, when he repeated the story, reframed Rivka’s answer in his own cultural norms: “And she said, ‘I am the daughter of Betuel the son of Nachor, whom Milkah bore to him’” (24:47). While Rivka had said that Betuel was the “son of Milkah,” the mother, in the servant’s version, he is the “son of Nachor,” the father, just as he would be described in a patriarchal society.

Similarly, the servant asks Rivka, “Does your father’s house have a place for us to stay?” (24:24). What is Rivka’s response? “And she said to him, ‘We have much straw and fodder, and also a place to sleep’” (24:25). For Rivka, there was no “father’s house”; in her society the father was simply not in the picture.

Thus, when Rivka leaves the servant we read, “And the young woman ran and she told her mother’s household according to these events” (24:28). This is perhaps the most revealing verse of all. Rashi notes how unusual it is to refer to a “mother’s household” and resolves this problem by interpreting the phrase to mean a physical house or room that the mother would have to herself, and that Rivka ran there to confide these events to her mother. There is no question, however, that the simple sense of the verse is that it was her mother’s household. The mother, not the father, was at the head of or defined the household.

In fact, Rivka’s father, Betuel, is quite invisible in this entire episode. It is not Betuel who greets the servant but Lavan, Rivka’s brother. And when the servant completes his story we read that “Lavan and Betuel responded, ‘From God has this matter come!’” (24:50). Why is Lavan, the brother, mentioned before Betuel, the father? Because, in this society, the brother and mother head the family, not the father. And thus, the servant gives gifts not to the father, but to Rivka’s “brother and mother” (24:53).   

It thus comes as no surprise that when the final decision is made, the father is nowhere to be found. “And her brother and her mother said, ‘Let the lass stay with us a year or ten months” (24:55). Rashi, assuming the norms of a patriarchal society, asks, “And where was Betuel.” His answer: “Betuel wanted to refuse to give Rivka and an angel came and smote him dead.” As we have seen, this question disappears once we assume that we are dealing with a matriarchal society. This is also why it is Lavan and Rivka’s mother who send Rivka away and who bless her, referring to her as their “sister,” not their daughter (24:59-60). With Lavan as the head of the family, Rivka is the family’s sister, not its daughter.

Returning to the beginning of the parasha, we can understand why Avram’s servant was concerned that the woman would stay put and Yitzchak would be asked to relocate and why he was concerned about what the woman, and not her father, would say. For in such societies, the husband would move into the woman’s house. And in such societies, women had a voice regarding their fate. And, lo and behold, we find that unlike cases in which a father marries off his daughter unilaterally, here, when the critical moment comes, the final decision is given to Rivka. “And they said: Let us call the lass, and ask for her answer” (24:57). In fact, this is a value that finds its way into halakha. It is from this that the Sages learn that a father is forbidden to marry off his underage daughter, that he must wait until she is an adult and can choose her own husband (Rashi and Nachalat Yaakov, Breishit, 24:57 and Kiddushin 41a).  

Perhaps this helps explain why Avraham was so insistent on the servant going to Haran. Maybe Avraham wanted to make sure that Yitzchak’s wife would be a woman who had a voice of her own. Avraham had learned this lesson well: “Everything that Sarah tells you, listen to her voice” (21:12). Sarah, also from Haran, did what was necessary to ensure the survival of her family. And for this family, this new religion, to succeed, it would require not just strong men but strong women as well. It would require women like Sarah and Rivka. For as we will read in next week’s parasha, it was Rivka who, using her strength and her voice and finding a way to operate in a patriarchal society, followed in Sarah’s ways and acted to ensure the continuity of the Jewish family.

It is unhealthy to only have men in a position of power. What is needed now is for us to learn to follow Avraham’s example, to seek out strong women, to seek out women’s voices, to be led collaboratively by men and women, working to ensure our survival as a people who will sanctify God’s name in the world.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Thought on the Parasha

Seeing (as) God

As our parasha opens, God appears, va’yeira, to Avraham while he is sitting by the opening of his tent. Immediately thereafter, Avraham sees, va’yar, three men standing near him. He sees them again, and he runs to greet them.

This pairing of God appearing and Avraham seeing brings us back to the beginning of Parashat Lekh Lekha. There, God tells Avraham to go to the land that God will show him, asher arekha. Later, when Avraham is passing through the land of Canaan, God appears to him and tells him that this is the land that God will give to Avraham’s descendants. God’s appearing to Avraham enabled Avraham to see that his was no ordinary land, but the Promised Land.

Although God spoke to Adam and Eve, to Cain, and to Noah, God never appeared to them. The first person that God appears to in the Torah is Avraham, and God does so again and again. It is thus no coincidence that Avraham is also the first person commanded not just to follows God’s words, but to see what God was showing him. God appears to Avraham so that Avraham may learn how to see what is Godly in the world, how to see God in the world.

After God appears to Avraham in our parasha he begins to see more clearly. He notices things; he looks at the strangers not once, but twice. He sees that these are not just travelers, but people in need. He pays attention to details – according to the midrash he notes how they are standing and how they are addressing one another. He puts himself in their place, sensing what they need and how they must be feeling even before they have spoken. And he understands how to speak to them so they feel welcomed and embraced.

Avraham’s encounter with God allows him to see what is Godly in others, not just in the world. In fact, when he first speaks to the men he addresses them with the word adon-ai, “my lords,” the same word that is used to refer to God. The ambiguity should be understood as purposeful. After seeing God, he was able to see these nomads not merely as men but as human beings created in the divine image.

Seeing God in the world is what allows us to see properly. It is a corrective to how we as humans too often see – through the lens of self-interest and desire, a seeing which leads to a taking. This, as I have recently discussed here, is what constitutes primordial sin:  Eve sees the fruit, and she takes it: va’teirava’tikach (Breishit 3:6). The “sons of God” see the human women, and they take them: va’yiruva’yikachu (6:2). And later, in last week’s parasha, it was the servants of Pharaoh who saw Sarai and took her: va’yiruva’tukach (12:15).

God's appearing to Avraham is meant to reverse this way of seeing the world. In fact, it is now that we read how the act of taking can been transformed and become a tikkun of this primordial sin.

It begins after the flood. Ham sees his father’s nakedness and goes out to tell his brothers. He sees the nakedness, but they are the ones who do the taking. They take the cloak so that they should not see, vi’ervat avi’hem lo rau, “and the nakedness of their father they did not see” (9:23). If human seeing leads to taking, then the simplest solution is to make sure that one does not see. It’s a lot easier to diet if there is no ice cream in the house, and it’s a lot easier to avoid sin if one closes one’s eyes to the outside world.

But one cannot go through life with her eyes shut, no more than she can go through her life without eating. Dieting can actually be much harder than, say, quitting smoking. One can avoid owning cigarettes or even being around others who smoke, but one cannot avoid eating. The true tikkun is not to learn how to not see, but to learn how to see correctly.

It is thus that God begins to teach Avraham how to see. “Go thyself… to the land that I will show you, arekha” (12:1). And the taking that follows this seeing is a taking in the service of God: “And Avram took, va’yikach, Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all the wealth that they had amassed… and they set forth to the land of Canaan” (12:5). Far from taking to serve oneself and amass wealth, Avraham takes his wealth to serve God.

Similarly, after God appears to Avraham in the beginning of our parasha, Avraham’s seeing of the men is followed by a very particular type of taking: “… let a little water be taken that you may wash your feet” (18:4). It is not a taking for oneself, but a taking of one’s efforts and one’s own resources in order to give to others.

We would expect that the akeida, the taking of Yitzchak as a sacrifice, is the ultimate expression of this taking to serve God. Surprisingly, however, this is a taking that was not preceded by a vision. God speaks to Avraham and commands him to perform the akeida, but in those verses God never appears to Avraham. And unlike the first lekh lekha, Avraham here is commanded to go to the place that God will tell him, quite pointedly not the place that God will show him.

There was indeed a divine command to offer up Yitzchak, but it was never part of the divine plan that this should come to fruition. Offering Yitzchak was not part of the divine vision, and God would never show Avraham how to see in this way.

Although not following a divine vision, Avraham does see for himself: “And he saw the place from a distance…” (22:4). And this does lead to a taking, a taking that could well result in the sacrifice of Yitzchak: “And Avraham took the wood for the burnt offering… and he took in his hand the fire and the knife” (22:6). And yet, inasmuch as God has not appeared to him or shown him the way, we, and quite possibly Avraham, are left to wonder if Avraham is seeing things as God would have him see them. Is this a proper seeing? Avraham’s response to his son is telling: “God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering” (22:8). What God sees, what God wants Avraham to see, is yet to be made clear.

It is at the critical moment that the Avraham realizes what it is that God wants him to see. The angel speaks to Avraham and stays his hand, telling him, “For now I know that you fear God” (22:12). The word fear, yi’rei, evokes the word to see, roeh, and this is made explicit two verses later, “And Avraham called the name of the place ‘God sees,’ yireh, as it is said to this day, on the mount of the Lord it shall be seen, yei’raeh.” Fearing God is intertwined with seeing God, and if Avraham now fears God, it is also because he has now seen God.

It is now, after this fearing/seeing, that Avraham can see correctly:

And Avraham lifted up his eyes, and he saw, va’yar, and behold, behind him, there was a ram caught up in the thicket by its horns, and Avraham went and he took, va’yikach, the ram, and he offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. (22:14)

He looks clearly; he looks twice, lifting up his eyes, looking behind him. The vision of God has pushed him to see better, to see broadly, not narrowly, to look to see a deeper truth. He now sees the “sheep” that God has seen is not his son but the ram, and the taking that God wanted was not the taking of his son but the taking of the ram.

There are many forms of seeing and taking in the world. When one sees through his or her own eyes, one sees for oneself and one takes for oneself. It is our goal to strive to see through God’s eyes, to learn to take what is ours in order to give to God. But we must always be on guard that this taking for God not be twisted into a violent fundamentalism, into taking the property of others or even the lives of others in the name of God. To see like God is to see that God wants the ram, not the son. It is to see the godliness in every human being. It is ultimately to give to others and to give to the world, to act in all ways so that God will be more seen in the world.