24 July 2013


17 Menchem Av 5773

This is a picture of unrestrained chesed, also called ahavat chinam.  Chesed is represented by water, but boundaries have to be set for it or it will go everywhere and cause inestimable damage. How would we be able to drink without a container to hold it? Avraham Avinu was known to be a man of chesed and he also had a problem with this:

(Ohr HaRa'ayon, Vol. II, ch. 20)

...Clearly, Sarah demanded Ishmael's ouster...first, so that Isaac would not learn from his ways, and, second, because it would be impossible for Ishmael not to be filled with jealousy over the Land, which he saw as belonging also to him, and he would surely fight Isaac to take it away from him.  Tanchuma, Shemot 1 concludes, "From here we learn that Abraham was inferior to Sarah in prophetic powers."

Likewise, foolish, groundless love spoils the normal order of things.  As Bereshit Rabbah 53:12 teaches, regarding Abraham's not wishing to send Ishmael away, "This belongs to 'shutting one's eyes to evil.' (Isaiah 33:15)"  That is, Abraham, due to his inappropriate love, turned a blind eye to Ishmael's evil, and only Sarah saw it through her prophecy.

And don't we see the same situation repeated with regard to Yitzchak and Rivka's dealings with Eisav?

Sarah was right in not taking the path of groundless love, and Abraham ultimately banished both Ishmael and the other concubine's sons.  It is true that Ishmael continued to hate Isaac, as Shemot Rabbah, 5:1 teaches:  "We have always learned that Ishmael hates Isaac."

Equally, we've learned  "it is a halachah that Eisav hates Ya'aqov."

Even so, better a brother that hates you from far away than lives close by.

In the coming days, I hope to focus more attention on some ways in which misguided, misplaced and boundless chesed is wreaking havoc on the Jewish world.  And who knows but that this is the cause of all the flooding in the natural world, which is certainly not unaffected by what occurs in the spiritual realm and is quite often a reflection of it.

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