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    In this article, we
    will address the
    intriguing question
    of how two
    and Ishmael—both
    born to the same father, Avraham,
    manifested as polar opposites: one
    embodying the epitome of goodness
    and purity, while the other represented
    the pinnacle of malevolence and
    Parashat Toldot begins with the verse
    stating that Avraham gave birth to
    Yitzchak. The apparent question arises:
    it is not Avraham who gives birth, but
    Sarah. What message, then, is the Torah
    trying to convey? (Refer to Rashi for
    one perspective; however, let’s explore
    alternative interpretations). To further
    understand this, one must also answer a
    rather unsettling question: How is it
    possible that such a great Tzaddik like
    Avraham had a child like Ishmael (just
    as one may ask regarding how Yitzchak

    can have a son like Esav)? Additionally,
    why did Sarah give Hagar to Avraham—
    which woman would give another
    woman as a wife to her husband,
    especially someone as lowly as Hagar?
    One of the greatest early mekubalim,
    שערי אורה שער)Gikatila Yosef Rabbi
    on light sheds ,) חמישי ד״ה דע כי כשחטא
    this matter and provides a comprehensive
    understanding of what transpired. He
    begins with an introduction, explaining
    that when Adam Harishon sinned, a
    poison entered his soul—a poison
    identical to the one the serpent
    introduced to Chava. This poison was a
    dense and significant impurity, and it
    was transmitted to his children and all
    subsequent generations.
    To eliminate this impurity, there was a
    necessity to separate the undesirable
    from the virtuous. Each righteous
    person in every generation contributed
    to this process of distinguishing between
    the negative and positive elements. The

    conclusive stages of this
    purification occurred through
    the actions of the Avot. Avraham
    gave birth to Ishmael, thereby
    releasing a significant portion of
    the negative influence to
    Ishmael. Yitzchak similarly did
    so with Esav. Following these
    separations, Yaakov emerged
    completely free of any impurity.
    (פני דוד לך לך טו)Chida The
    explains that this was the reason
    Sarah did not conceive until after Hagar.
    She, with her divine insight, perceived
    that her husband needed to be cleansed
    of the poison descended from Adam.
    Therefore, she gave Hagar to him for
    this purpose. Only after Ishmael was
    born did she see that Avraham was
    ready to bring forth a pure soul.
    According to Midrash Raba(ד,מה (,
    Hagar’s immediate ability to give birth
    was likened to the ease and quick
    attainment of worthless things, akin to
    thorns in a field that grow abundantly,
    in contrast to the difficulty of growing
    שער הפסוקים למהרח״ו)Arizal The .grain
    comparing ,elaborates further) לך לך, טז
    Sarah and Hagar to fruits and peels.
    Just as the peel grows first and paves
    the way for the fruit, Hagar had to give
    birth first before Sarah could conceive.
    emphasizes) וירא ח״א קיח) Zohar The
    that once Yitzchak was born, Ishmael
    is never mentioned in the Torah by
    name. The Zohar suggests that this
    omission is deliberate, as one does not
    mention the inferior (trash) in the
    presence of the superior (gold),
    symbolizing Yitzchak’s elevated
    status. Furthermore, Sarah explicitly
    told Avraham that Ishmael was not his
    son but Hagar’s. While initially
    treating Ishmael as his own, Avraham
    received divine confirmation that
    Sarah was correct – Ishmael is not his
    explained As .)אור החיים כא,יא) son
    earlier, since Ishmael was born to
    expel negative forces from Avraham,
    he is considered Hagar’s son and not
    Due to this reason, the Ohr HaChayim
    (תולדות תחילת (explains that Yitzchak
    occupied a higher spiritual level than
    Avraham. While Avraham still bore
    the negativities inherited from his

    father, he was cleared of them by
    releasing them through Ishmael. In
    contrast, Yitzchak had already been
    purified from such negative forces.
    The Arizal and the Chida offer an
    alternative explanation. When Hagar
    initially conceived, her embryo was
    expected to be exceptionally malevolent
    as it solely carried Hagar’s lineage,
    potentially more sinister than Ishmael.
    To counteract this, Sarah employed the
    “ayin hara” (evil eye), resulting in
    Hagar experiencing a miscarriage. As
    previously explained, Esav also bore
    the remaining negative impurity within
    Yitzchak. Thus, the combination of the
    two potentially evil forces—Ishmael
    and Esav—could have been formidable.
    In a symbolic alignment, towards the
    end of the parasha, Esav marries the
    daughter of Ishmael, accentuating the
    connection between these two
    Now we can comprehend that Avraham,
    carrying the negative energies from
    Adam Harishon, sought purification. He
    transferred the negative aspects to
    Ishmael while endowing Yitzchak with
    the positive nature. The residual
    negativity left by Yitzchak was entrusted
    to Esav, leaving him pure and holy for
    Yaakov. Rabbi Yosef Gikatila elaborates
    that Yaakov, uncertain of his complete
    purification, approached his twelve
    children on his deathbed. He inquired if
    any negativity lingered, and they
    reassured him, collectively affirming
    their purity with the recitation of Shema
    Yisrael. This perspective also elucidates
    the brothers’ reaction to Yosef; they
    mistakenly believed he absorbed
    Yaakov’s remaining negative powers,
    prompting their attempt to eliminate
    him, unaware that Yaakov was already