Rosh Hashanah 5770 (Genesis 21.1-34, Numbers 29.1-6)
A weekly Torah exploration for families by Michael S. Raileanu, M.A.Ed.
Shana tovah. As is our tradition, we will discuss the parasha that is going to be read on Shabbat. Of course, this week it is also Rosh Hashanah. Therefore we will be reading: Gen. 21.1-34 and Num. 29.1-6. Isaac is born and weaned and Ishmael and Hagar are sent away at Sarah's suggestion.
- Abraham and Sarah have to wait a long time before Isaac is born. Jewish tradition teaches us that righteous people are forced to wait for the birth of their first child. Why do you think this is the case? What should the righteous people be doing while they await the arrival of their child.
- Abraham has a child with Hagar only after Sarah suggests it. Why would she then send them away after Isaac is born? How did her heart change once Isaac was born? What would you be feeling if you were Hagar? If you were Hagar how would you explain all of this to Ishmael?
- When Hagar and Ishmael run out of water she places the child under a tree so that she does not have to watch him die. It is at this point that an Angel of God comes down to help out. Why doesn't she sit with her child at this terrible moment? Why does the Angel say that God is responding to the cried of the boy? Again, if you are Hagar how do you explain all of this to Ishmael?
- On the second day of Rosh Hashanah we read the "Binding of Isaac" Genesis chapter 22. Do you think Abraham was ever going to sacrifice his son? If not, why did he even go up the mountain? If he was going to sacrifice him, why would he do such a thing? Is there another possible answer between yes and no? If you are in Isaac's place why would you go along with all of this?
- Why are these the readings for the High Holidays? What do these have to do with a new year? What is their connection to beginnings of the year? Do you see anything about repentance here? What about asking forgiveness? Have you ever heard a Torah reading that you think would fit better at this time of year?
Copyright 2009 Michael S. Raileanu. All rights reserved.