November 2, 2023 / 18 Mar-Cheshvan, 5784 • Parshat Vayeira
Issue 793
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

As Ishmael grew up, Sarah observed how he began to taunt Isaac and engage in other unsavory forms of behavior. She therefore insisted that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away.

Sarah said to Abraham, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for the son of this bondwoman will not inherit together with my son Isaac!” 

Genesis 21:10

We are told that Ishmael, although still quite a young man, had started to fall into idol worship, illicit relations, and even murder! Yet, the main reason Sarah gave for demanding that Abraham banish him was because Ishmael failed to acknowledge that Isaac was Abraham’s rightful heir, claiming that as the firstborn, he would inherit a double portion. This false sense of entitlement stemming from his haughty attitude led to his other forms of degenerate behavior, and Sarah recognized this as the root of his corruption.

Similarly, we see that so much of the moral degeneration that exists in the world is the result of a failure to acknowledge the unique role of the Jewish people in G-d’s plan for humanity. The awareness that there is a G-d, that He has a plan for creation, and that it is the task of the Jewish people to educate the rest of humanity regarding how to fulfill that plan, is the foundation of all morality.

 Daily Wisdom 3