Nov. 16, 2020

Noam Weissman on Genesis 18 and 22 – “Abraham’s Journey to Becoming a Knight of Faith”

Senior Vice President of OpenDor Media (formerly Jerusalem U), Noam Weissman, joins Mark on the podcast today. Noam is also the host of the podcast ‘Unpacking Israeli History’, and prior to his current roles, he was the Principal of Shalhevet High School, where he taught a range of subjects, including Talmud, Tanakh, Jewish philosophy and Israel Education. Today, he has chosen two stories from Genesis, the narrative of Sodom and the binding of Isaac, as well as the connection between them, to discuss with Mark.

Their conversation today is a wide ranging one which not only summarizes the two stories, but also delves deeply into the many themes and lessons within, their relevance to our present day, and, of course the connection between the two. Such notions as becoming the Chosen People, the invention of morality, divine commands and moral philosophy, Abraham’s great accomplishment, and identity protective cognition are explored all within the context of Abraham’s journey toward becoming a knight of faith. Noam concludes with the lessons he has learned about humankind, which quickly segues into the nature and styles of parenting. Drawing upon their own insights and the wisdom of a number of Torah scholars, Noam and Mark engage in a thoroughly rewarding back and forth exchange, alternating between challenging, supporting, and building upon each other’s interpretation of these two pivotal texts, ultimately revealing the eternal guidance the texts have to offer.

Episode Highlights:

· Noam’s summaries of Genesis 18 and 22 · “Perhaps the most instructive verse in the entire Bible.” · Covenantal morality · Becoming the Chosen People · God enjoying Abraham’s challenging Him · The invention of morality · The spiritual zenith of Abraham’s career · Why Abraham challenges God in Genesis 18 but no Genesis 22 · Divine commands and moral philosophy · The last encounter of Abraham with God, Isaac, and Sarah · Abraham’s great accomplishment and 21st Century social science · Humility – the most important quality · Identity protective cognition · Viewing the history and society of Israel from multiple perspectives · The tension of ideas · What it means to be a Jew · Becoming a knight of faith · The lessons Noam has learned about humankind · Parenting styles and the relationship between parent and child


“I’m going to invite Abraham into My thinking.”

“Inviting Abraham into the conversation in order to construct morality.”

“The very purpose of the Jewish people in the Bible, not because they are…the Chosen People, but to be the Chosen People.”

“Are you really willing to kill the innocent with the guilty? That doesn’t seem to be very ethical.”

“God never directly commands Abraham to sacrifice his son.”

“For Abraham to take Isaac off of the altar was many times harder than for him to offer him up in the first place.”

“Self-justification of our past…dictates our future.”

“This was Abraham’s great accomplishment, is being able to say, ‘I was wrong, and I’m going to change’.”

“Embracing the joy of being wrong.”

“People don’t change their minds.”

“We see Abraham transcend himself at the end without getting anything in return for it.”

“I believe that people are good.”

“Teaching students and teaching adults is really quite similar.”

“In order to do good, you need a bilateral relationship.”

Genesis 18 -

Genesis 22 - Links:

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‘Unpacking Israeli History’ podcast:

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