25.04.2011 21.Nisan, 5771 Schwii schel Pesach; Tag 6 des Omer
In what seems like a willful misreading of rabbinic commentary on the Bible, an influential national-religious rabbi comes up with a cruel-to-be-kind understanding of the tale of Hagar and Ishmael.
In one of the versions of the story of Hagar, Abraham holds a feast to celebrate the fact that Isaac has been weaned. At that event, as it is written in Genesis 21:9, Sarah catches sight of Ishmael "laughing." This is a vague word, which our Sages, in their commentaries, interpret as meaning that Ishmael worshipped idols or raped women or tried to murder Isaac. However, it is also possible that what we have here is a fundamentally human expression of a tension between two women that leads to Sarah's outburst. It is reasonable to assume that this festive event generated envy in the heart of Isaac's older brother, Ishmael, because of the attention being shown toward little Isaac, the son of the mistress of the house, and because of the fact that no feast was held when Ishmael was weaned. It is thus possible to assume that the Bible is relating here that Sarah saw Ishmael mocking his young brother. In any event, as a result of this awkward situation, Sarah demands that Abraham banish Hagar: " … for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac" (Gen. 21:10 ). Abraham loathes the idea; however, God intervenes on Sarah's behalf (Gen. 21:11-13 ), and Abraham banishes Hagar, sending her into the desert with her son Ishmael (Gen. 21:14 )….