The “Akeidah” is the episode in Torah where Yitzhak (Isaac), Avraham’s son, is bound on an altar to be sacrificed (B’reishith/Genesis, ch. 22). [1]

In discussing the Akeidah, a friend asked, “Even though the rabbis say we should follow Avraham’s example, why should we follow it?”

Yes.  Why should we?

Some years ago, I led services for the Jewish residents of a nursing home.  I once asked them, “How many of you have faith in G-d?”  Everyone raised his or her hand.  I then asked them, “How many of you worry?”  Again, everyone raised his or her hand.

Finally, I asked, “If you have faith in G-d, why are you worrying?”

The room was silent.

It seems as if many people “believe” in G-d, even say that they have “faith” in G-d.  But very few seem to actually “trust” G-d.  Not trust “in” G-d, as if following archaic language to an arcane practice.

I mean really, actively “trust” G-d:

The way Avraham trusted G-d, when asked to sacrifice Yitzhak.

The way we trust our cars to start, when we turn the ignition key.

The way a trapeze artist “trusts” his or her partner to catch him or her in mid-air, high above the ground.

The way we trust the post office to deliver our letters, even knowing that the post office makes a fair number of errors.

When you turn the ignition key, do you worry whether the car’ll start or not?

When you mail a letter, do you worry whether it’ll be delivered or not?

When you “trust” like that, you don’t worry, do you?

Such confidence in the other’s willingness, readiness and dependability, brings with it a “letting go” of concern about a situation.  “It’s done.  It’s in other, highly competent hands.  I need give it no more thought.”  It’s more than automatic.  It’s assumed.  We “trust,” because this is the way things are supposed to work; the way it’s supposed to go.

It almost seems as if we “trust” the post office or “trust” our cars, more than we trust G-d.

So, what stops us from trusting G-d?

When faced with a problem, most of us know what we think “should” happen.  We trust that G-d will miraculously do exactly what we are sure should be done.

G-d should immediately return the abducted child, unharmed.

G-d should heal the loving mother, who is dying of an incurable disease.

G-d should bring to justice the hit-and-run driver who has killed an elderly man.

But we know that G-d doesn’t always do it.  G-d can do it.  There are enough anecdotes inside and outside the Bible, to believe that G-d has done it in the past.  But it seems that G-d doesn’t always do it.

When it doesn’t come out the way we think it should, we tend to question our own faith, or, question G-d’s justice; or question G-d’s kindness; in the extreme, we might even question  G-d’s very existence.  At the very least, we fear.  We panic.  We become upset.

We “worry.”

Underneath, it’s really a burst of anger that we haven’t gotten our way.

What we haven’t done, at that moment, is “trust” G-d.

We haven’t “let go” of our own expectation of any particular outcome.  We haven’t acknowledged that G-d is always present. That G-d does know, that G-d is taking the action Divinely understood to be the most appropriate in a particular place and time, for a particular person or people.

We’re often faced with a choice between insisting on our own will – our own view of right and wrong – or letting it go, even over seemingly inconsequential things:

Did the traffic light change before I got there?

Is my bus or train late?

Did a clerk in a store make an error, or move too slowly?

Or, even:

Was someone rude to me?

Did someone neglect to show me the respect that I believe that I deserve?

But if we truly trust G-d, we should be undisturbed by any of this.  Trusting G-d means “letting go,” as Avraham did.

If we say that we “trust” G-d, but still feel insecure, unsure, ill-at-ease, anxious, even “hurt,” then we haven’t let go yet.

[1] In Muslim tradition, it’s Yishmael (Ishmael/Ismail), not Yitzchak (Isaac/Ishak) who is bound on the altar. This isn’t the understanding common to Judaism or Christianity, based on the Biblical text.
To my understanding, it doesn’t appear in the Qur’an itself, either, but was added as a later interpretation. Yishmael/Ishmael/Ismail, is, by commonly held tradition, the father of the Arab people (who are called “Ishmaelites” in the Joseph-narrative later in the book of Genesis.
At the end of the Muslim New Year, in fact, an animal is slaughtered in commemoration of this event (the binding/sacrifice of the son), the meat of which is then given to the poor.
Nevertheless, the underlying understanding is the same: The binding of Avraham’s (Ibrahim’s) son is the exemplary act of obedience and surrender of the individual will to the Divine Will, which we should all emulate.