Abraham, Robert Frost, and Kol Nidre

The problem with Frost’s “Road Not Taken” is that the other path in the poem still leads to the same destination. Frost and Thomas still end up at home, because all they ever planned to do was to take a walk and finish where they started.

In other words, Thomas’s hesitation didn’t matter in the poem.

But it may have mattered quite a bit more in life, and this is the tragic irony of Frost’s poem. Frost unwittingly drove Thomas to war and, ultimately, to his death: by counseling against, and indeed ridiculing his friend’s hesitation.

In the myth of the binding of Isaac, Abraham is no better. He never flinches from the demands placed upon him by Yahweh. Even as the rabbis tried in the midrash to salvage Abraham’s conduct, twisting a bit of narrative flourish into some perverted form of piety, the story of Abraham and Isaac leads to the same end-point.

Abraham is judged meritorious for not hesitating to send his own child to the slaughter.

We can rightly be shocked at both Frost and at the Torah for shunning the taking of a moment to think, a moment to object.

Why? Because we can see that there’s a certain value to hesitation.

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