Ask the Rabbi

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  • Sefer Bereshit



Rabbi David Sperling

Cheshvan 22, 5781
1) why was Yishmael closer and liked more by Avraham Avinu? Was Yishmael a tsaddik? Why yes or why not? 2) Were Yishmael and Yitzchak in good relations or were they enemies? Were there good relations between them in any period of time? 3) Why did Avraham Avinu want Yishmael to receive the blessing of the chosen nation? Why did Avraham Avinu believe Yishmael should be given priority? what are the deep reasons for that?
Shalom, 1. I'm not sure what you mean when you say that Yishmael was closer and liked more by Avraham Avinu. Avraham in fact loved both of his sons, as he says to G-d when told to sacrifice "your son, the only one, the one you love" prior to the akeidah and he answers (according to the midrash) "I love both of them". 2. When Yitzchak was a small child, Yishmael took him out to the field to play at shooting arrows with him. According to Rashi, Yishmael was trying to shoot his brother. This would indicate that not only did they not have a good relationship, but that it was a dangerous, potentially fatal one. When they grew older and Yishmael did teshuva, the two brothers both attended the funeral of their father. There is no evidence of any friendship or good brotherly feeling between them, however. 3. Avraham did not believe Yishmael should receive the blessing of the chosen nation. When G-d revealed to him that a son would be born to him and Sarah, Avraham stated "if only Yishmael could live before you", meaning that he didn't need another son and that Yishmael was enough, and he didn't want to bother G-d by making Sarah young again. He was mistaken in this and G-d makes this clear to him, by saying that indeed Yishmael would continue to live and would become a great nation, but nevertheless, G-d wanted Avraham to have another son from whom would stem the Jewish People and who would continue his dynasty. Yishmael would not receive the blessing of the chosen nation and once G-d explained this to Avraham, he never again mentioned it.
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