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When did Yishmael return? - Parshat Chayei Sarah

17/11/2022 09:07:29 AM


In this week's Parsha, We read about the deaths of Sarah and Abraham. Of note, we learn that Isaac and Ishmael buried their father, Abraham. When did Ishmael return? Long ago, he and his mother, Hagar, had been excluded from the covenantal household. Some commentators suggest that Ishmael returned for the funeral. This would suggest that he never said goodbye to his father. Others suggest that he arrived before the funeral and effected a form of repentance with his father and with Isaac. The text itself is unclear.

We can glean lessons from this narrative. All too often, estranged members of a family appear at the funeral of a relative and waited too long or did not care to try to fix a broken relationship. At other times, sincere forms of reconciliation take place before a death so that the living can move on without any feelings of guilt or wasted opportunities.

I prefer to hope that Ishmael arrived in time to reconcile with this part of his family. Assuming so, we have a paradigm for our situations today.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Howard Morrison

Sun, 21 April 2024 13 Nisan 5784