Abrahams Tent

Hashem ["The Name," the Holy One] appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them, and, bowing to the ground, he said, "My lord, if it please you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, wash your feet, and rest under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves and after that you may pass on - since you have come your servant's way." They replied, "Do as you have said." Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quick, three selahs of choice flour! Knead them and make cakes!" Then Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and choice, and gave it to the servant-boy, who hastened to prepare it. He took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared and set these before them; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate. (Gen. 18: 1-8)1

This Tent of Abraham is not the usual model for Jewish political theory, but we live in an age that should prompt reconsideration of the usual. We have completed an epoch of several hundred years that imposed, on both secular and religious policy-makers, a series of dichotomous choices: argue either on behalf of a given nation-state or against it; argue either for identifying or separating church and state; and, if you argue for religion, argue only for one denomination or another (Reform or Orthodox; Jewish or Christian or Muslim). Over the past century we have, however, received enough signs that the epoch of the "great dyads" has passed. Colonialism, world wars, and Holocaust should have been sufficient warning that the great "isms" of modernity had exhausted their positive contributions to human betterment; and September 11 is only a more recent sign. It was the epoch of great "isms," after all, that made the dyad a civilizational flag: the law of excluded middle, true vs. false, universal vs. particular, individual vs. tribe, reason vs. unreason, white vs. black, progressive vs. old, autonomous vs. law-bound, the public realm of politics vs. the private realm of religion.

Abraham's tent is a meeting place for religious thinkers of the age after dyads.

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