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Rabbanit Shani Taragin

SACSRaraIhF'sICE                                                                        Mizrachi

A sk any child of the first                 Sarah, but we hear of her final act of     by looking at him as a “na’ar” (lad) and
           story that comes to mind         sacrifice. She had already selflessly      not necessarily as his “ben” (son).
           on Rosh Hashanah and they        initiated the relinquishing of her
will probably say “Akeidat Yitzchak”        potential status as primary matriarch      Sarah’s greatness is highlighted by her
– Avraham’s willingness to sacrifice        when she gave her maidservant Hagar        foil character. Sarah is willing to forfeit
Yitzchak. But Chazal direct our attention   to Avraham as a wife to ensure the         her own status for the sake of her “ben,”
to other stories too. Rabbi Eliezer         fulfillment of G-d’s plan.5 The ensuing    whereas Hagar – alone with Yishmael
teaches us that many seminal events         story, which takes place 13 years after    in the desert – casts him afar to die
occurred on Rosh Hashanah: the world        the birth of Hagar’s son, Yishmael,        as a “yeled” (i.e. child vs. son). Hagar
was created, Joseph was released from       recounts G-d’s covenant (Brit Milah)       detaches herself from her own son in his
prison, the harsh labor in Egypt ended,     with Avraham – he will bear a great        time of greatest need!
and Sarah, Rachel and Chana were all        nation but through Sarah, not Hagar.
remembered as they conceived.1              The juxtaposition of these stories         This is the message with which we open
The stories of G-d remembering these        underscores the connection between         Rosh Hashanah – Sarah’s willingness
barren women are so central to the day      Sarah’s sacrifice of her future and her    to forfeit her own status for the sake of
that we read their respective narratives    ultimate reward. But that is not the end   her progeny. We too must be willing to
as the Torah and Haftarah readings on       of the story.                              submit ourselves to G-d’s will, and when
Rosh Hashanah,2 to ensure a proper          After weaning Yitzchak, Sarah sees         we do, we are rightfully rewarded. Sarah
mindset and focus on the “Day of            Yishmael “assuming” Yitzchak’s role        Immeinu reminds us (as does Avraham
Remembrance.”                               in Avraham’s eyes. After all, for 13       Avinu in the second day’s reading) that
Chana’s story reminds us of personal        years Avraham Avinu was convinced          our role is not to wait passively to see
and national prayers and commitment3        that Yishmael was the promised             the products of a relationship between
whilst Rachel’s tears, recounted by         child and presumably educated him          G-d and Am Yisrael, but to initiate with
Jeremiah, remind us to cry and beseech      appropriately. Sarah Immeinu recognizes    fortitude, confidence and sacrifice as we
G-d for mercy. What is the central          that Yitzchak is to fulfill that role and  actively demonstrate our belief in the
message behind the first of the Torah       Yishmael’s presence in the household       covenants forged with G-d!
readings though, i.e. the story of Sarah    is a distraction. However, she does
giving birth to Yitzchak followed by        not ask Avraham to send out his son;       1 Rosh Hashanah 10b-11a.
Yishmael’s banishment from Avraham’s        instead, she presents the quandary as a    2 Megillah 31a.
home? At first glance, we marvel at the     choice between wives – “Cast out this      3 Samuel I, 1-2.
miraculous phenomenon of barren,            bondwoman and her son; for the son         4 Genesis 21.
post-menopausal Sarah Immeinu               of this bondwoman shall not be heir        5 Ibid. 16.
and recognize that G-d judges and           with my son, even with Yitzchak.” Sarah
remembers everyone on Rosh Hashanah.        implores Avraham to look at Yishmael       Rabbanit Shani Taragin is Educational
But the birth of Yitzchak is only           as Hagar’s son, and Yitzchak as her son,   Director of World Mizrachi and Religious
recounted in the first seven verses of the  and to choose between the mothers,         Zionists of America–Mizrachi and a
chapter!4 What is the significance of the   recognizing that Yitzchak is meant to      senior educator in women's higher
continuation of the story?                  inherit Avraham’s legacy.                  educational institutions in Israel
We do not just read about the fulfillment   G-d then confirms Sarah’s perspective
of the Divine promise of a son through      and reassures Avraham that he should
                                            begin to detach himself from Yishmael

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