My Sefardi spiritual advisor got me thinking today.
It seems fair to ask how Avraham could challenge God on the suffering of the righteous when he is told about the impending destruction of Sdom, but not do the same when told to sacrifice his son. The question isn't new, but today, in our discussion about moral authority, I was led to ask whether the two stories are placed near each other precisely because they represent different approaches to moral authority?
In fact, in the one story that separates Avraham's brazen challenge to God from his unquestioning submission to God's will is another story about moral authority. And in this story, it is Sarah who's authority wins the day.
So in short, I wonder if there is a structure here:
1) Avraham and Sdom represents man's own notion of right and wrong.
2) Avraham, Sarah and Hagar represents societal values and their influence on personal decisions
3) Avraham at the Akeida represents total submission to God's will.
Perhaps these are the three influences on our lives when it comes to moral authority. Our own sense of right and wrong, our environment, and God's will.