Vayeira October 31, 2015 / 18 Heshvan, 5776

In this week’s parasha, we find the story of the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham’s concubine and firstborn son, to the wilderness. This comes about after Isaac is born to Abraham and Sarah. Sarah insists that the maidservant and child be driven out in order to insure that Isaac is the one to gain Abraham’s favor and inheritance. Abraham reluctantly complies. (Gen 21:9-11) It is said that the root of the rivalry still raging between Jews and Arabs today is found in this story. Could it be that the violence today in Jerusalem and its environs goes back to this biblical story? Or did the enmity between two peoples in the same land precede the story, and the biblical story was an attempt to explain the source of this age-old conflict? No matter how far back it may go, we need to continue to work to find solutions to the senseless and ongoing killing that is a blot on our otherwise cherished homeland.