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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

VaYerah 4-6

And he appeared

Genesis 21:22-34

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

Gen. 21:19 ESV


Where is the solution to the problem?

Avraham had divorced Hagar and sent her on her journey with his teenager son, Ishmael. They had trouble in the desert because they couldn’t find water. Ishmael was about to die because he was ill. Hagar went away from him because she didn’t want to see him die. They both cried, but the Eternal only heard the voice of the boy and sent an angel with a message for her. The angel didn’t tell her where the water was but that she had to help her son because he was to become a great nation. In that moment, the Almighty opened Hagar’s eyes so she could see the well and that’s how they survived this potentially mortal crisis.         

We can learn several things from this narration in the Torah. First, Avraham sent Hagar and their son Ishmael away even though it hurt him. He did so because the Eternal had ordered him to do it. We have to obey the Eternal even if it is painful. The path of obedience is not the easiest path. Most of the times it is hard and many times we have to suppress our feelings; but if the Eternal commanded it, it is for the best and we simply have to obey.

The second teaching is that Hagar wasn’t a good mother leaving her son by himself. She was more engrossed in her own suffering than in the boy’s. She didn’t want to see her son die, but in case he had died, he would have needed his mother more than ever during his last moments in life.

We also learn that Hagar didn’t put the promise about Ishmael’s future in her heart. She knew what the Eternal had said about the future of her son (17:20), but when the crisis came she didn’t care for that promise. Instead of trusting the Eternal who gave the promise, she acted and spoke totally in the opposite direction believing that her son would die. That was one of the reasons why the Eternal didn’t hear her cry but only the boy’s.

When the angel spoke to Hagar, he didn’t give her the solution to the problem, but dealt instead with something more important, the reason why she didn’t get help before. Her way of treating her child prevented the Eternal’s intervention in her life. Her disbelief and rejection of the promise were obstacles for the Eternal’s hand during the crisis. When she paid attention to what the angel said ­to take care of her child and focus on the divine promise for his future, then she was in the right condition for receiving help. In that moment, the Eternal opened her eyes to let her see that exactly in the place where they were, there was a well.

Where was the solution to the problem? In this passage we learn that:

  • The solution to all problems is always in the Eternal.

  • If we mistreat those who are around us, the Eternal cannot send help.

  • If we don’t pay attention to what He has said, He cannot help us.

  • When we repent of our lack of love to our neighbour and we pay attention to the divine message, we will be in the condition of finding the solution to the problem.

  • Help is not far away. It is actually close to where we are - we only need to open our senses in order to perceive whatever is within our reach

    Cry out to heaven when you are facing a crisis. Look around you to check if you haven’t mistreated your neighbour. Trust what the Eternal told you and obey what He says now. Open your eyes and look around, help is within reach. Act, meet the needs of those who are under your care and the Eternal will be with you.

    May the Eternal make us sensitive to perceive his hints and act accordingly, and not according to our own hearts.


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