We are approaching the Jewish Yomei Noraim, the days of awe, of Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur. The theme of the Yomei Noraim is tshuvah, repentance. The Hebrew word tshuvah literally means return, and the image is that we are returning to God. One of the main themes of Rosh Hashonah is the akeidah, the binding of Isaac, when Abraham obeys the command of God to travel to Mount Moriah and there offer to God the son whom he had fathered at 100 years of age, the son who God had promised would be Abraham's spiritual and temporal heir. As Abraham raises his knife over his son, who is bound on an altar, to fulfill God's command, an angel commands him to stop. Instead of Isaac, Abraham offers a sacrifice of a ram that is entangled in a nearby thicket. Among other motifs, the blowing of the shofar, the ram's horn, on Rosh Hashonah calls to mind the akeidah, the willingness of Abraham to fulfill God's commandments without regard to personal cost or desire.
David Benkof is a Jewish gay man. Eight years ago he decided to stop having same-sex relations and to eventually pursue traditional Jewish family life married to a woman. In a moving article in the Jerusalem Post, Benkof describes how the akeidah reinforces his decision to arrange his own life according to what the Torah requires, rather than his personal desires.