September 11, 2018, Israel
בַּיֹּ֣ום הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֗י וַיִּשָּׂ֨א אַבְרָהָ֧ם אֶת־עֵינָ֛יו וַיַּ֥רְא אֶת־הַמָּקֹ֖ום מֵרָחֹֽק
בראשית כב' ד
On the Third day Abraham raised up his eyes and saw the place from a distance. (Genesis, Chapter 22, verse 4)
This verse is read in the synagogue as part of the service for the second day of Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year.
The Jewish New Year, not a time for partying but a time for prayer and reflection. I sit in the synagogue, as in previous years going back half a century and more. But each year I am older and each year I bring new experiences with me as I sit and hear the same words recited, more meaningful and relevant each time.
The Binding of Isaac, the turning point away from Paganism when human sacrifice is openly discredited and disavowed, the sanctity of human life, a covenant between Abraham, his descendants, and God.
There is quite a buildup as Father Abraham approaches this terrible moment when he is called upon to sacrifice his only son. This is also a forewarning for all fathers as they accompany their sons to the indoctrination day at Israeli military, Israel Defense Force. Year after year this ritual is replayed in daily life as it is in the synagogue. It is the young who must pay the price for freedom. It is the blood sacrifice of our young people that keeps us free. It is an awesome moment, a moment filled with awe, and dread, and fear. It is a moment when we confront God himself and plead for our lives and the lives of our children. It is judgment day.
Sacrifice must not be made in haste, such monumental decisions require clarity, that is why we are told that it took place "on the third day".
The third day has meaning, it is not the first day, it is not a decision made in haste. The great Biblical commentator Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Feb 22, 1040 - Jul 13, 1105, France ) states that it is important we understand that this was not a hastily made decision, it was not a rash act, but it was one that was thought of over a period of time, the Third Day.
To me it seems that the first day represents the first stage, the original thought or idea. One should not act upon this until it is challenged. The second day represents the challenge, the attack on the original thought. The third day represents the completed analysis, the final thought at this stage, the one that can lead to action.
This reminds me of the writings of the great German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, (1770 - 1831, Prussia), he wrote of progress coming through contradiction and negation. Contradiction and negation have a power, a dynamic quality that does not exist from mere thought. This is actually the method of study used by Talmudic students. Hegel states that contradiction and negation have a dynamic quality that leads to progress and further development until a logical rational unity is reached. This unity contains within itself all the ideas that led up to it, the contradiction is preserved but it is raised to a united idea.
This idea has been expressed by students of Hegel as the well known Thesis, antithesis and synthesis. We may view the Biblical third day as this synthesis that Hegel discovered thousands of years later.
This idea translates to our understanding of the progress of Krav Maga, real self defense. We start with an idea, over time we challenge that idea, we negate it, this forms a contradiction. This attack on the original idea leads to the third day, the conclusion, or the synthesis. But as Hegel points out this is not a true conclusion but only a resting point, a starting point for the next round. This synthesized idea will soon be contradicted as we progress further.
We are always striving to move forward, we do not want to remain stuck in the past. And this is our Jewish new year Krav Maga message.