In our Torah reading this week, Hagar takes her son Yishmael (Ishmael) out into the desert, and then is afraid that he will die of thirst. An angel then says to Hagar that G-d has seen her son “where he is,” and G-d opens her eyes and she finds a well of water. Commentaries explain that G-d was well aware of the evil acts that Yishmael would do in the future, much less his descendants, but judged him to be righteous based upon his deeds at that time — judging him “where he is” rather than “where he will be.”
If a person tries to improve in a particular area, and fails repeatedly, then he or she can feel it’s time to give up, to “throw in the towel.” The Torah tells us that G-d doesn’t look at it that way. At the moment that someone is doing better, he is doing better — and is called “righteous” even if he’s going to fall back into his bad habits tomorrow. As King Solomon says in Proverbs 24:16, “a righteous man falls repeatedly, and gets up.” Everyone makes mistakes, everyone does the wrong thing sometimes. The difference is that the righteous person gets up and keeps trying!
We have the great honor this week of announcing a brand new class in our Advanced section, from Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein — studying “The Timeless Rav Hirsch” on the weekly parsha. Please see Torah.org for more information about this exciting new class.
Finally, a Mazal Tov to Stephen Hanmer and Kate Menken on the birth of their baby boy this morning!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org