Thursday, November 5, 2009

Classic Rock Meets Midrash

In addition to having the זכות to learn with real live Chassidic Rebbes, I also draw religious inspiration from a wide range of Chassidic seforim. However, there is a hidden Rebbe who has much wisdom and religious inspiration despite the fact that he is not necessarily so religious. I like to refer to this man as the Hibbinger Rebbe.

The Hibbinger Rebbe is primarily a singer/songwriter and one of his classic songs is called, "Highway 61 Revisited." This song should be viewed as a modern Midrash/classic piece of Chassidic Torah. The Hibbinger Rebbe devotes an entire verse of this song to his analysis of Akeidat Yitzchak.
  1. Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"
  2. Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"
  3. God say, "No." Abe say, "What ?"
  4. God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but
  5. The next time you see me comin' you better run"
  6. Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin'done ?"
  7. God says. "Out on Highway 61".
Now I don't want to write out a long drawn-out over-analysis of every line, but let me point out a couple of salient details:
  1. (Line 2) Avraham was clearly reluctant to perform the Akeidah. Here the Hibbinger Rebbe clearly disagrees with Rashi 22:3 (ד''ה וישכם) who explains that Avraham was eager to perform HaShem's command.
  2. (Line 5) Regarding the Akediah, the relationship between Avraham and HaShem is based on fear and not on love.
Regarding the significance of the mysterious number 61, the Hibbinger Rebbe has not yet been willing to reveal that secret. Perhaps it refers to the word אני which has a Gematria of 61 (1+50+10) and would clearly represent the existential angst of the individual walking alone. HaShem tells Avraham to perform the Akeidah on Highway 61, on the lonely road. The Hibbinger Rebbe is telling us that HaShem acknowledges the difficulty of the task because Avraham is alone (אני) and separate from everything in the world.

Thank you for reading my analysis of this piece of Chassidic Rock & Roll. If you have not yet heard the actual song, you are missing out.


  1. I love your short study of Dylan's midrash - especially the Gematria of "ani".

    Here is something I posted today on my blog, The Torah In Haiku. I have since added a link to your post.

    Even Bob Dylan
    Wrote an Akedah midrash
    But not in haiku

    Did Abe question G-d
    As Dylan suggests he did?
    What would you have done?

  2. You know, the "Gush highway," which is basically Derech Ha'avot, and the path Avraham took on the way to Har HaMoriah for the akeida, is Route 60... gematria can be off by 1....