Parshas Vayeira 2018: Mother knows best!
Sarah and Avraham were barren for many years. Sarah felt badly that she couldn't conceive for her husband, so she offered him the opportunity to marry her maidservant and try to have children through her. Hagar, did produce a child for Avraham and his name was Yishmael (Ishmael). Our tradition teaches us that Yishmael is the founding father of the Arabic nations and Yishmael’s nature even from a very young age foreshadowed that of his descendants. .
Avraham and Sarah were eventually promised that she would indeed conceive and give birth to a son and it would be through that child that an incredible nation would be born. At ninety years old, Sarah did in fact, give birth to Yitzchak (Isaac). The Chofetz Chaim is quoted as saying “Yitzchak grew up and his mother understood that Yishmael was not only a troubling child but a negative influence on her son.” Sarah said, “Drive away this servant and her son…” (Genesis 21:10) Sarah told Avraham to expel Hagar and Yishmael from their home. Avraham however, was reluctant and did not see the potential danger between the two boys and thought it might be a better idea to keep Yishmael with Yitzchak in hopes of having the well mannered, Yitzchak positively influence Yishamel.
However, Hashem told Avraham to do as his wife said and Hagar and Yishmael had to go. At first blush, this sounds quite harsh as Sarah literally had them thrown out of the house. Sarah was not being cruel. Rather, Sarah was setting the example for all of her future grandchildren (us) on how to handle negative influences. We cannot compromise when it comes to Hashem. Hashem has to be first and raising our children (and ourselves) in the proper Torah way is probably the single greatest responsibility of a parent.
The ability to influence another in a positive way is a great responsibly and often a difficult task. Our thoughts, words, and actions, can change a person’s opinion, attitude, , and even his/her life. As Jewish people, our job is to project ourselves as role models for each other and for the people of the world. We are to set the (highest) standards. The friends we choose and the organizations and groups we associate with must serve as catalysts in driving us toward growth in our relationships with other people and our relationship with Hashem.
Unfortunately, with the current galus (exile - where Jews are living outside of Israel and under civil law not Torah law) we have lost many Jews to all kinds of negative influences.. The culture we live in is extremely luring. We easily get lost in all the excitement the secular world has to offer and we rather quickly lose our own Jewish identity.
Sarah understood that the importance of good influences and the danger of negative influences. She understood the key to elevating ourselves and becoming the people that could live up to Hashem’s standard for us was to surround ourselves with like-minded people sharing the same spiritual goals .
It took our Mother Sarah to make sure we understood that the right people will help us accomplish our goals and the wrong people will not only prevent us from achieving our goals but can also destroy us, chas v’shalom. What an important lesson we learn here from Sarah - remove negative influences from our lives!
Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend! Maverick V. Peters