Avraham learns that to be religious is to live with a God Who carries contradictions and incongruities. Consistent gods are idols because they don’t teach man how to live in a world that is full of dichotomies and inconsistencies. To be religious means to know how to navigate unresolvable conflicts, to be bold enough to negotiate, and to stand upright even when failing.
What is Avraham to do now? Should he rescue God from Himself and refuse to have a hand in this suicide attempt? Or should he perhaps become an atheist? After all, such a God cannot exist! But Avraham chooses neither of these options.
To be religious means to know how to navigate unresolvable conflicts, to be bold enough to negotiate, and to stand upright even when failing. It is in the unresolved that real life is lived. Only that can lead man to true religiosity. In Parashat Vayera, Avraham learns that a God Whom one fully understands is only half a God. Because a life without dichotomies is a life not lived. The overwhelming paradoxes are what portray life in its full force and reality.
The most tragic figure in the Bible is God, said the famous Talmudic scholar Saul Lieberman. Indeed. No one has been more misunderstood than God. But let’s be honest; it’s His own fault. After all,
It is most important to realize that in biblical days and even in the days of the Mishna and the Talmud, hardly anybody doubted the existence of God. That He exists was beyond doubt. It is for this reason that we do not find any discussion in the Tenach, Mishna or Talmud about God’s existence. It is only in the Middle ages that Jewish philosophers started to debate this matter.