Believe in Me

As he is

In this week’s Torah portion (Vayeira), Yishmael and his mother are cast out of Avraham’s home. They find themselves in the desert without food or water and Yishmael is at the brink of death. His mother casts him under a tree and weeps in the distance. At that moment, God miraculously makes a well appear and an angel calls out to Yishmael’s mother saying, “Do not fear. Hashem has heard the voice of the lad as he is now.”  The commentators explain, Yishmael is being judged for his current actions, not for what he has done or will do. Right now he deserves to live, even if that results in future grievous crimes.

 

The wayward son

Interestingly, this contrasts with the “wayward son” (Devarim 21:18) who overindulges in stolen meat and wine. He is brought to court by his parents and given the death penalty to prevent future transgressions. How could it be that Yishmael, who according to commentators had committed idolatry, murder, and sexual immorality, is vindicated, while the wayward son is executed for far lesser crimes?

 

The obvious difference

I believe the answer is clear. Yishmael’s mother was devastated to lose her child. However, in the case of the wayward son, it is his own parents who bring him to court. Once parents give up on a child all hope is lost and there is no chance for rehabilitation.

 

This paradigm is borne out in the literature. Whether your child suffers from academic difficultiesaddiction, mental illness or criminality, your support and belief in them is literally a lifeline.  The more parental support people have, the better their chances of overcoming challenges. Relationships can be challenging with plenty of drama. As a parent, never lose sight of the subtle influences you have on your children and the fact that against all odds your connection to them may be life-changing.

Ariel Mintz, MD
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Ariel Mintz, MD

Founder and President at Refuat Hanefesh
Dr. Ariel Mintz grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After spending two years learning in Israel, at Derech Eitz Chaim and Shaalivim, he earned his BA in Psychology at Yeshiva Univesity in New York. He went on to obtain his MD at Oakland University William Beaumont School of medicine. He is currently a licensed physician working to complete his training in General Psychiatry at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. After that, he hopes to subspecialize in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has a supportive and talented wife and two wonderful children. He is very passionate about destigmatizing mental illness in the Jewish community and bringing comfort to those who are suffering. Ariel can be reached at [email protected]
Ariel Mintz, MD
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