I am not a Kabbalist. Nor a philosopher.

If I were, I could speak about such sublime realities like beauty and truth in something approaching an authoritative fashion. But all I can muster is a few life lessons and some Torah gleanings.

For instance. Sometimes truth is ugly.

Take Abraham for example. Here is a man who is everybody's hero. Who else could be adored by Christian, Muslim and Jew? Founder of ethical monotheism, host par excellence, educator, iconoclast, at once challenging men to rise above their mediocrity, yet challenging G‑d to descend from His uncompromising excellence and value us for who we are.

Yes, Abraham was beautiful, but he didn't stop there. His commitment went far beyond his natural goodness, far beyond his kind and wise nature. His commitment was ultimate, and that can look scary, very scary.

Abraham's biggest test, the binding of Isaac, is not the kind of deed one calls wise, or kind, or sane for that matter. I recall studying the story of the binding of Isaac with a brilliant scholar who loved nothing more than Torah. But this story bugged him, no, actually haunted him. "He was wrong! He had no right to do it!" The story drove him nuts.

Abraham built his entire life on promoting G‑d in the world. He weaned the Middle East off of idolatry, taught people, fed them, nurtured their faith in an all- knowing, just and benevolent Creator. He was a living model of the good G‑d he preached. And then what?

Then came his big test: To offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. Which sounds a lot like this: Commit murder. Kill a human being. Kill your own son. Your only son. The one you love. The promised father-to- be of your millions of children. Go ahead. Make me a liar. Tie him up and slit his throat. Watch him bleed to death. Trash your life, trash My reputation, and don't ask why. Just do it.

Ahh, you may recall, recoil. It wasn't so bad. At the last moment, G‑d said "Stop". He just wanted the offer, not the deed. Yes, G‑d was beautiful, but Abraham did not want to stop there. "Let me take just a drop of blood." Abraham wanted to serve in truth, ultimate truth. And that ain't pretty.

But then again, I'm not a philosopher, nor a Kabbalist.

If I were, I might see the beauty within the ugliness, the truth within the lie. But guess what. I can't. All I know is "G‑d said so." And in truth, that's enough, because ironically, living in truth with G‑d IS beautiful, whether we understand it or not.