Avraham was greatly distressed by the prospect of banishing his son
from his home, but was commanded by G-d to follow the advice of Sarah, his
wife, whose prophecy was superior to his own. "So Avraham awoke early in
morning, took bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar."
The Chofetz Chaim (1) notes that in this episode the Torah reveals to us
enthusiasm and alacrity of Avraham to fulfill the desire of G-d. His
personal difficulty with the situation notwithstanding, he utilized great
energy and self motivation, not to simply complete his mission, but to do
with a swiftness and eagerness that demonstrated a complete subscription to
the Divine will.
Mesilas Yesharim (2) explains that man's ultimate goal is an eternity of
deriving humanly incomprehensible pleasure from the splendor of G-d's
Presence; toward that end we are given a lifetime to develop our G-d
consciousness, to utilize the mitzvos (Divine commandments) to refine our
spiritual palate so we may truly enjoy that ultimate pleasure.
Obviously, as mere mortals of flesh and blood, there is great challenge in
dedicating a lifetime to striving for an intangible, incomprehensible
pleasure. We find ourselves able to forsake inestimable hours of sleep and
part with vast sums of money to develop the potential of our children; our
image of what we desire our children to be is sufficiently tangible to
negate the sense of sacrifice. But for the indefinable World to Come, such
sacrifice is, for many, not simple, and, for many more, not happening.
But for our Patriarch Avraham, who independently discovered monotheism and
whose spiritual mettle had already been forged by passing eight Divinely
orchestrated challenges to his faith, G-d's love and splendor were tangibly
evident. While the act of Yishmael's expulsion was extremely painful, his
keen comprehension of the generation and fortification of his relationship
with the Divine compelled him to grab this opportunity for growth.
As his grandchildren, our spiritual DNA contains the ability to follow
It may take a lifetime to become true connoisseurs of spirituality, but -
Avraham understood - that is a paltry investment for an eternity of
Have a Good Shabbos!
(1) Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen Kagan of Radin; 1838-1933; author of basic
works in Jewish law, philosophy and ethics and renowned for his saintly
(2) "Path of the Just", one of the most popular Mussar (introspective
self-improvement) works in Jewish literature; a moving, inspiring work
describing how a thoughtful Jew may climb the ladder of purification until
he attains the level of holiness; authored by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto,
1707-1746 of Padua, Italy, and Amsterdam