Ishmael did teshuvah (Rashi Chayei Sarah,
They [Ishmaels descendants] overran all
their brethren (25:18)
On the face of all his brethren he will dwell
On the face of all his brethren he fell (25:18)
While Abraham was alive he [Ishmael] dwelled;
after Abrahams death he fell (Rashi)
On the face of all his brethren he fell
is followed immediately by and these are the children
of Isaac, to teach us that the son of David, who stems
from the children of Isaac will sprout when Ishmael will fall
at the end of days, then will sprout the son of David, who stems
from the children of Isaac (Baal HaTurim end of Chayei Sarah)
He [Ishmael] will be a wild man. His hand
will be against everyone, and everyones hand will be against
him (Genesis 16:12)
And so the story continues
Following the events of Abraham and Sarahs
lives - the birth of Isaac, the expulsion of Ishmael at Sarahs
behest, Abraham offering Isaac to G-d (the Akeidah) - this weeks
Torah portion (Chayei Sarah) brings this chapter of history
to a close.
Sarah passes away at the age of 127 and is buried
in the Machpeilah Cave in Hebron, which Abraham purchases from
Ephron. Abraham sends his servant Eliezer to find a bride for
his son Isaac. Eliezer returns with Rebecca and she marries
Isaac. Abraham passes away at the age of 175, and is buried
beside Sarah by both his sons, Isaac and Ishmael.
The portion concludes with the chronicles of Ishmael.
It delineates his twelve children, who become twelve princes
that establish the Arabian nations. Ishmael dies at the age
of 137. The final verse of this weeks portion is: [Ishmaels
descendants] lived in the area from Havilah to Shur, which borders
on Egypt, all the way to Assyria. They overran all their brethren.
Thus ends the story of Ishmael son of Abraham.
In each of the last three Torah portions Ishmael plays a prominent
role: in Lech Lecho Ishmael is born, with the promise
to Abraham that he would be a great nation. In Vayeira,
Sarah insists that Abraham send him away. Finally in Chayei
Sarah, his life ends and his progeny documented.
Interesting to note that the concluding chapter
of Ishmael is included in the portion called Chayei Sarah,
the life of Sarah. Sarah was not Ishmaels mother; indeed,
she actually caused Ishmael to be banished from Abrahams
home. Why then would the Torah place Ishmaels final legacy
in the chapter titled the life of Sarah?!
Was Ishmael a Tzaddik?
Rashi, the great classical Torah commentator,
tells us that Ishmael did teshuvah (repented) before
Abraham passed away.
Indeed, the expression vayigveh (he breathed
his last) used to describe the death of Ishmael, is only used
in regard to tzaddikim.
Some commentaries explain that through his teshuvah he
transformed all his sins into virtues, thus his entire life
was ultimately redeemed.
Being the son of Abraham was the ostensible cause
for Ishmaels teshuvah. Yet, it was Sarahs
banishing Ishmael that ultimately caused him to return to the
Abraham felt that the best way to influence Ishmael
was through love and kindness. However G-d tells Abraham that
he should defer to Sarah and send Ishmael away. Because chesed
(love) that is not balanced with gevurah (discipline)
can ultimately turn destructive. Rain without discipline will
flood the fields; rain must fall in drops so that the earth
can absorb the moisture.
Ishmael will be a wild man. He inherited
the passionate faith of Abraham. However passion must be tempered
and channeled with gevurah lest it consume others, his
hand will be against everyone. As it turns out (at the
end of todays Parsha), that Ishmaels descendants
overran all their brethren, at the end of
days the children of Ishmael will initiate wars in the world.
Thus G-d tells Abraham to heed Sarahs gevurah
approach, to send Ishmael away. This was not meant to destroy
Ishmael, rather by banishing him he will become a great nation,
as G-d promises Abraham. Ishmael cannot live in the same home
with Isaac. Only with the appropriate measure of discipline
can Ishmael grow. On the face of all his brethren he fell
Ishmael did teshuvah and was humbled (fell),
and that elevates him (his tikkun).
Ishmaels teshuvah and the summation
of Ishmaels life is therefore specifically placed in the
portion of Chayei Sarah: Sarahs life and influence,
particularly in regard to disciplining Ishmael, was instrumental
in Ishmaels return to Abrahams faith.
The conclusion of Sarahs life (the end of
Parshat Chayei Sarah), the climax of her achievements,
is her impact on Ishmael: Sarahs gevurah approach
causes that on the face of all his brethren he fell.
And from Ishmaels fall at the end of days will sprout
Moshiach, who stems from the children of Isaac.
Thus concludes the story of Ishmael son of Abraham
a story of aggression, banishment, but also a story that
concludes with hope and redemption.
You can now order the tape of Rabbi Jacobsons
elaborate class on this topic.
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 Maskil lDovid at the beginning of our portion.
 See Klei Yokor at the end of our portion.
 We derive that Ishmael did teshuvah from
the fact that he participated in Abraham's burial. Since Sarah
influenced Ishmael's return, the verse (25:10) emphasizes
that Ishmael's participation in Abraham's burial is connected
with the fact that Abraham was laid to rest together with