Hagar, Yishmael, Challenges and Solutions (among other things)

Jumping to CHAPTER 21 in this week’s Pasha:

Sara became pregnant and gave birth. The son born is given the name Yitzchok – we often think the laughter being referred to is just the laughter of Sara when she heard she’d give birth and the laughter of folks when they saw an old lady give birth. But the term Yitzchok is future tense — when we read the ayshes chayil, there is a verse there that says that a righteous woman “va’titzchak l’yom acharon” she laughs for the end of days. Will come a time, when our whole nation will be one of “yitzchok” we will laugh – all we went through in history will turn to laughter when we get to the Messianic age.

Yitzchok is the first to have Bris Milah on proper day – on the 8th day. Why 8th day? Seven is the count of the physical world – 7 days of week, 7 colors in color spectrum, 7 notes in music —   7 is the physical world only. 8th is beyond. 8th is the next world already. We are told there will be an 8th note in music when Moshiach comes. 8th is miraculous and beyond our world. So, the concept of Bris is improving upon the physical world and going beyond it. After a full week of the baby’s existence, we introduce the new Jewish baby to the concept of 8, of striving to be more than just a physical being.

The lad grew and got weaned at 2 years old. Avraham throws a party when Yitzchok is weaned.

[verse 9] Sara sees Hagar’s son “metzachayk” laughing. But his was not healthy laughter. He was mocking and making fun of Avraham’s values. RASHI: he did idol worship, murder and adultery.

Sara tells Avraham to get rid of Hagar and Yishmael. A woman has to protect her children – she saw that the influence would not be good for Yitzchok. RASHI points out that even his very life was in danger – Yishmael wanted to inherit what Avraham had and he would “pretend” shoot arrows in Yitzchok’s direction hoping to “accidentally” kill him and get rid of him.

[verse 11] Avraham did not like this thought – this was his son too and it pained Avraham that his son went off the derech.  In fact, the Mideast tells us that Abraham maintained a relationship with Yishmael, even trying to visit him sometime after his marriage and that by the time Abraham dies, Yishmael has repented and become a beloved son again.  How much more so does it behoove parents in our day and age to never cut the ties to their kids, no matter what kind of messes they might be making of their lives.  If Abraham never gave up on Yishmael, maintained a relationship with him, visited him in his home, despite the fact that his son did all three cardinal sins, what excuse does a parent have to cut off a kid who hasn’t done that great of crimes.  Back to the hard choice where Abraham is told he has to evict his son from his home.  He is torn…

[verse 12] But Hashem tells Avraham the right thing is to listen to Sara because Yitzchok is the kid who is to be the continuation of Avraham’s mission in the world.

Once Avraham knew it was the right thing to do, he didn’t hesitate anymore. He got up and gave food and drink to Hagar and sent Hagar and Yishmael off.

[verse 14] and she went and she got lost… RASHI she returned to doing idol worship.

Huh? Because she got lost, we know she was doing idol worship? A Jew has to know that there is no such thing as “getting lost”. G-d guides the footsteps of man to places where man has to have influence and do a mission. So if I set off for a trip to Albany and a wrong turn takes me to Montreal, there is a reason for that. It was meant to be. When Hagar feels “lost” we know she has lost that sense of direction and purpose- – she is not tuned into the fact that G-d put her into situations and places where she had to do her mission in this world. If she felt lost, it is clear she was no long G-d centered.

Yishmael is sick and they run out of water. Hagar dumps Yishmael in one place and walks off into the distance –she doesn’t want to see him suffering so she walks away from his suffering. And she starts crying.  Note she is more worried about her emotional state than his.  She’d rather leave him alone to his suffering, rather than suffer while watching his suffering.  Real giving and loving is to be able to be discomfited and put the suffering person’s needs first.

Yishmael, too, is crying. He is not just crying out of pain and despair.  He is actually repenting. He knows he deserves what he is getting. [verse 17] “and G-d heard the voice of the lad” Hashem hears Yishmael’s regret and accepts his repentance.

An angel tells Hagar that she has nothing to fear because “shema Elokim el kol hana’ar be’asher hoo sham” G-d heard the voice of the lad where he is at. Even though the descendants of Yishmael will eventually cause grief to the Jewish people, even though in the past Yishmael had sinned, “be’asher hoo sham” where he was at in the moment was at a point of self-reflection and self-improvement –and, therefore, his life gets spared.

[verse 19} “va’yifkach Elokim es ayneha, va’tayrah be’ayr mayim” and G-d opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well of water. The well of water was there, but in her despair she saw nothing but self-pity. Now that she has the reassurance all would be well, Hashem helped her see the water that would be life-giving. Many of the solutions to our problems exist right there in front of us and we don’t see it. We sometimes have to have faith and reassurance, and the blessing of G-d opening our eyes to see the tools that are there right in front of us, plain as day, that we just didn’t see before.  Despair clouds our vision.  Open up the eyes and the solutions are there, quite close at hand!



About jewishspectacles

Jewish Spectacles-the kind you look through, not the kind you create!
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