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Daily Aliya for Vayeira, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

Aliya Summary: Isaac grew, and Sarah noticed that Ishmael, Isaac’s older half-brother, was a potentially negative influence on her young child. She demanded of Avraham to expel Ishmael, along with his mother Hagar, from the household. Despite Avraham’s initial misgivings, G‑d tells him: “Whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her voice!” Hagar and Ishmael wandered in the desert and eventually ran out of water. Ishmael was about to perish from thirst when an angel “opened Hagar’s eyes” and showed her a well of water. Ishmael grew up in the desert and became a skilled archer.

The Gemara explains that although Ishmael was destined to do evil things to do the Jews, G-d saved him now because he was not yet evil, which by definition meant that he had the opportunity to stay righteous. That’s why the Passuk says “G-d has heard the lad’s voice in the place where he is.” Where he was THEN, not where he will be. This is one of the 13 Attributes of Mercy (the very first): Giving us a chance to do the right thing, where He knows we’ll take it or not.