Are there any classical sources that criticize Avraham for coming very close to sacrificing his own son? Or do the mefarshim unanimously laud Avraham for his loyalty and faith? (I am aware of sources, such as Ralbag, that suggest Avraham misunderstood the commandment.)

  • academia.edu/36608361/…
    – Double AA
    Aug 5, 2021 at 17:04
  • Ralbag lauds him for misunderstanding.
    – Alex
    Aug 5, 2021 at 19:23
  • 1
    Rav Hirsch points out that when Avraham told Yitzchak that Hashem will provide the lamb, he was saying that Hashem will decide what must happen. Aug 5, 2021 at 21:06
  • Thank you, that is helpful. Aug 6, 2021 at 3:49
  • Does the Torah not say that he and his son Yitzchak receive great reward for doing it? How would one understand that if they did wrong? sefaria.org/Genesis.22.16?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en
    – MichoelR
    Aug 17, 2023 at 2:06

3 Answers 3


I doubt you'll find any traditional sources that state he was at fault, given Hashem's express approval, the promise that it would be a merit - our constant merit - for all generations, and the importance placed on it throughout Jewish writings and tefillos. Also, until relatively recently, the idea of such sacrifice literally or figuratively, was a very real possibility. In a more figurative sense (and hopefully not literally), it still is. I wonder if there are even sources from the rishonim that felt the need to justify it (the reaction, I mean, not the blatant question of the command and retraction). It may have seemed poshut.

(I dont know if this is allowed here, I cna remove it if it isn't but are you looking for specifically criticism, or an understanding of how someone could do this and believe it's ok? That would be easier to find sources for)

  • This is now the third post in the last week saying it can't be such a source exists. And again I direct you to my initial comment on the post for a source criticizing avraham
    – Double AA
    Mar 19, 2023 at 19:50
  • Thats why I specified "traditional sources that state". Even if his darshening of the piyutim was accurate, I still wouldnt consider it a traditional source. But it's true, my negative experience with academic papers led me to just gloss over rather than seeing what he quoted. Still not convinced, but thats beside the point.
    – Saon
    Mar 20, 2023 at 16:21
  • Why isn't a piyut a traditional source?? The Kaliri and his school are praised and respected by all the Rishonim.
    – Double AA
    Mar 20, 2023 at 16:26
  • Not as a mforesh. But maybe Im splitting hairs.
    – Saon
    Apr 2, 2023 at 16:15
  • What's the status of a "mforesh"?
    – Double AA
    Apr 2, 2023 at 16:19

Rashi quoting Beresheit Rabah 56:8 and see also Tanchuma 17:2 both say that Hashem never intended Avraham to sacrifice his son. But we don't find anyone (unless you can prove otherwise) that criticizes Avraham for even coming close to slaughter his own son.

  • The onus is on you not him. Also see my comment above for your counterexample.
    – Double AA
    Mar 16, 2023 at 21:43

As explained in the Gemara Taanit 4a, it is clear that G-d, blessed be He never intended to kill Yitzchok (ולא עלתה על לבי זה יצחק בן אברהם). The Gemara equates the episode of Akeidas Yitzchok together with the infamous episode of Yiftach sacrificing his daughter!

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