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Refugee Crisis - an archtype

Will the cries of the stranger open our eyes?

(an interpretive translation of Hagar’s story in Genesis 21)

They call him Ishmael, and me Hagar.

Ishmael, meaning ‘will be heard.’ Hagar means ‘the stranger.’

But the boy I bore is not 'my' son

and the unseen stranger has no one -

Who will bear witness for her, unheard one?

The stranger, outsider, a ger? That’s what I am,

Abraham. Like you, yes?

You from rivers east, and me from the River west,

We’re all gerim, are we not? Sojourners. migrants.

Why not grant me an ear, hear me in?

But she said Gar-eish! The fiery fear of the foreigner,

In you too, father of (and to) my son.

Gareish. Banish. Divorce!

And even God said, listen to her. Heed her voice.

You say you have no choice. “Here’s a bit if bread, and a skin (of water).”

I carried your child, nursed him, loved him

and placed him, my child, in her lap. And in return, hardly a glance.

Then Isaac came, and her laughter finally came,

pure and true, without the frost of loss, without

that blade of anger and resentment, and I laughed

and rejoiced with her, nursed with her. And then

he was weaned and sharp edges returned, unleashed on my son, and me.

The stranger, the outcast, again. I am Hagar, hear me cry!

You, God, told him to listen to her voice, to do as she says?!

So here I am, alone, with You and him, the child that promised a hearing,


The food is gone, the water is gone, the hope is gone.

I cannot watch. I can’t look.

Mah lach hagar? What’s with this stranger thing?

Eyes look, ‘I’ looks.

I AM listens.

I hear the boy’s voice. And you?

In the eyes, it’s not good. It’s not fair. It’s all fear.

Eyes and mouths have lids and lips, but in the ears, just a drum.

The only difference between zera (seed) and zarah (strange) is in the Ayin [eye].

The eyes, not the ears. If you can’t look for fear, than listen.

Al tir’i, ki shama Elohim El col hanaar basher hu sham

hearwhat’s there. Here, I’ll show you

the well that was there all along, be'er in the air and the ohr, a sava fulfillement,

illumination of seven [senses].

Genesis 21 is read in jewish congregations on Rosh Hashanah (day 1).

In light of the refugee crisis in and around Syria, (not to mention here in America), Hagar's plight rises to the foreground. it is not easy to look it head on -- either in thie biblical narrative or on the news reports.

Maybe by listening, we can unveil new ways of seeing the situation, alterntive solutions to closed borders, fire hoses and tear gas. W

here did the conflation fo these two stories take you? Pull up a chair.

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