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    Akedah customs & traditions

    The Akedah (binding of Isaac) theme figures in the Selichot (penitential prayers).

    The binding of Isaac, by A Losenko

    The binding of Isaac, by A Losenko

    The shofar reminds us of the Akedah through the use of a ram’s horn. The reading of the Torah on second day Rosh HaShanah is the Akedah, which is also mentioned in the Musaf.

    The Midrash links the Tashlich on Rosh HaShanah afternoon with the Akedah: it says that Satan, wishing to obstruct Abraham, turned himself into a river and stood in his way, but Abraham jumped into the water and went on.

    Other Akedah customs are found throughout the year. According to the Mishnah, on a public fast day ashes are placed on the Ark and the cantor’s back in order to remember the suffering of Isaac.

    Sephardim and Chassidim say the Akedah daily. The Tachanun (propitiatory prayers) for Mondays and Thursdays mention it. A Genizah fragment says that during Tachanun, Egyptian Jews would fall to the ground and lie like a lamb about to be killed.

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