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Book of Genesis

Chaps. 18:1-22:24

November 18, 2016


It was there the whole time she just didn’t see it. This comes to describe two women separated by thousands of years.

Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah and mother of Abraham’s first child Ishmael, becomes the target of Sarah’s unbridled jealousy. This results in Abraham reluctantly expelling Hagar and Ishmael from his home.

Hagar “wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheva. When she had run out of water, she left [Ishmael, her son] under one of the bushes, and went and sat down at a distance, a bowshot away; for she thought, “Let me not look on as the child dies.”. . . . Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and let the boy drink.” Gen. 21:15-16 & 19

Rabbi Brad Artson notes, “The Torah does not claim that God created a new well for her. The miracle of the well is that it was there all along.” In her despair and sorrow, Hagar wasn’t able to see the well. She was so caught up in her personal tragedy she became oblivious to the presence of the life-sustaining water source.

While millions of Americans celebrated the election of President-elect Donald Trump, an equal number of Americans suffered shock and dismay. How could the polls have been so wrong? What could possibly explain the dramatic election defeat of Hillary Clinton? Political pundits have filled the airwaves with speculation. The truth is Hillary’s certainty that the American people would never elect a person like Donald Trump made her oblivious to the campaign’s reality. While her rallies attracted hundreds, Donald Trump was attracting thousands. From the end of the conventions through September, over 400,000 people attended Trump rallies. During this same period, Clinton attracted only 14,000. The American people were making their presence, and their message of change, known. Tragically, Hillary was unable to see it. On the morning of Wednesday, November 9, her eyes were finally opened but, unlike Hagar, it was already too late.

It is so easy to be consumed by our own needs that we lose sight of others, so invested in our own being that we dismiss reality. Sometimes lessons need to be learned the hard way.

Rabbi Howard Siegel

© 2017 Beth Tikvah Synagogue, Richmond, BC, Canada
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