Israel Forever

For the week ending 19 November 2005 / 17 Heshvan 5766

The Threat of Yishmael

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The entire world is finally waking up to the danger posed by the descendants of Yisrmael, son of the Patriarch Avraham, to the civilized world.

In this weeks Torah portion we read of the Heavenly promise to Hagar that from her son Yishmael there will come forth "a great nation". While this prophecy has been vindicated in the development of a large Arab world, there is a prophecy in last weeks portion about the character of that "great nation" which deserves analysis.

When Hagar was informed by a Heavenly angel that she would bear a child whom she would name Yishmael, she was told that "he will be a wild man whose hand will reach everyone and everyones hand will reach him." The Targum Onkeles explains this as a prophecy that "Yishmael will be a rebel against mankind who will be dependent on all and all will be dependent upon him."

The abject poverty and political instability which characterize so much of the Arab world and the paradoxical dependence of the rest of the world on Arab oil are vindication of the second half of the prophecy. The first part about rebellion is what fills the headlines.

Israel may be the prime target of the hostility of the descendants of Yishmael but the time has come for the rest of the world to realize that the threat is universal. Perhaps this realization will teach them to appreciate our struggle to secure Israel forever.

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