Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rejection Leads to Going Off the Derech

In the 5th aliya in Parshas Vayeira, Hashem assures Avraham that Sorah's counsel that he should expel Yishmael and Hagar from their home is correct. Then, Breishis 21:14 says that "וַתֵּלֶךְ וַתֵּתַע, בְּמִדְבַּר בְּאֵר שָׁבַע." "She [Hagar] went and wandered in the desert of Be'er Sheva." Rashi is bothered by the order of the pasuk which says that Hagar "went" and then "wandered." Rashi comments, quoting Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer, that she wandered back to the idolotry of her family.

It occured to me that despite the fact that in this particular instance, the rejection she experienced was warrented, Rashi is also saying that the natural result of being rejected by people is turning away from Hashem as well.

When a child is expelled from Yeshiva for less than l'shem shomayim reasons, or when a child is driven out of his or her own home, or when a boy or girl feels rejected as not being good enough by the parents one expects unconditional love from, even if they are never "kicked" out of their home, that kind of rejection leads one in the direction of wandering away from Hashem as well.

If we would know by a clear nevuah from Hashem that the consequences of such a rejection are warrented, as Avraham did, then it would be worth the cost. But none of us are getting such Nevuahs. We don't have to approve of the bad things that our children or our students do, but we must not reject or expell them as people. Otherwise they may go the route of Hagar, and turn not only from their families, but from Hashem as well, rachmana l'tzlan.

We have been writing a lot about what causes people to go off the Derech and I think Rashi's insight here is quite on point.

(B"H, though, Hagar [Rashi Breishis 25:1] and Yishmael [Rashi Breishis 25:9] both did Teshuva!)

-Dixie Yid

P.S. See Shirat Devorah's related post, which also links to this one for a great story with Reb Zusha and Reb Elimelech and the story that led to their birth.

(Picture courtesy of elearning2)

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frumhouse said...

I really love the tie in between the story of Hagar, rejection, and going off the derech. Great Rashi!

Anarchist Chossid said...

Nice post. Besides the danger of a person going off the derech, we must also not reject or insult him, because we are rejecting part of ourselves. Just like it says that a karbon what is unwholesome cannot be offered to Hashem as a sacrifice, a soul which is incomplete (because it rejected other Jews, whose neshamos are parts of it) cannot ascend up to Hashem in prayer or in a wholesome mitzvah.

Anarchist Chossid said...

Actually, I just thought that since Ishmael was ancestor of the people who started Islam, it can be said that this religion started as a result of rejection. According to one opinion, Christianity also started because of rejection (the whole story with saying Shmah, etc. — if that guy was indeed who we think he was). Interesting…

A Simple Jew said...

When is the Chumash with Dixie Yid commentary coming out?

I am going to call Artscroll now and see if I can pull any strings....

Neil Harris said...

Beautiful. This is exactly why it says in Pirkei Avos Avot (4:16) to be the first to great others. If you look in the book REB SHLOMO (about the life of Rabbi Shlomo Friefeld Zt"l) there are countless stories about the importance of not turning others away.
Your post illustrates a major reason (that we can work on) as to why people go OTD.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


Thank you!

Crawling Axe,

Very true point. That is how Xianity started. And what you said about Yishmael is also true. In fact, the Ramban says this!!! He says that because Sorah tormented Hagar, even if she had good reasons, this is why Yishmael will always torment and be a thorn in the side of the Jewish people.


LOL! You're a funny man, you.


So true. That's one of the things that made great men like Reb Shlomo so great. And it's why they were able to bring so many disaffected youth back to a love of Yiddishkeit, when others were not able to.

-Dixie Yid

Harry Maryles said...

Nice post.

Ron Samet said...

B'emes - we are too little to truly understand the avos and how they affected those around them.

Avraham was considered the model of chesed. Hachnasas Orchim and his ability to convice the world of monotheism! Yet, one of his sons is Yishmael - a recognizable rasha and starch enemy of klal Yisroel. Eliezer, his eved was considered a tremendous talmid of his, would be "Dole U'mashke" his torah to others - yet he faded into oblivion. What about all those nefashos he made in Charan? A grandson... another rasha.. Eisav...

In my humble eyes - it is way too complicated to simply attribute "going off the derech" to events/stories with the avos. B/c if Avraham Avinu couldn't get someone back - what are we to do.

In last week's parsha - a fascinating event occurs with Lot. Avraham splits with Lot over what? A petty argument over land. And Rashi HaKadosh writes that Avraham was worried about his own image - since Lot looked like him and if others would see Lot in the field with his shepards careless of other peoples' property, they would think it was Avraham. So Avraham asked him to part - leave! Can any of us imagine doing that to our nephew/brother-in-law??? And what came of Lot - a drunkard who slept with his daughters and gave birth to Moav and Amon!

So I repeat - these maasim - are very deep - and yes should be a model for us to learn from - but about this specific topic - what makes people go off the derech - I think it is very hard to learn from the Avos.

Shadchanim often say how unfortunately it would be practically impossible to set up one of the avos - with all the close relative marrying each other, so many of the children going off the derech and rebelling, sibling rivalry...

Tough concept to swallow.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Ron, you're very right in your point that the inyanim with the Avos are very deep and they were dealing with issues b'rumo shel olam.

However, you might have misunderstood. I am not suggesting that we can in any way judge what they did or imitate the simple outward actions that they engaged in. I tried to make clear that it was the right thing to do at the time because it was the clear ratzon Hashem for them through a Nevuah.

But just look at what happened and what Rashi says. I don't think it's a stretch to see how Rshi's saying that being expeled from Avraham's home lead to her wandering back to the idolatry of her father's house in Mitzrayim.

The Torah is called Torah from the lashon "horo'oh." It is there for us to learn from in our own present day lives, as the Baal Shem Tov and his Talmidim always teach us.

Have a gut Shabbos!

-Dixie Yid