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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Hagar's Prayer

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

This is another in a series of Divrei Torah that I am giving at KI on Wednesday mornings.

The torah reading for the first day of Rosh HaShannah includes the story of Hagar. Hagar was Sarah's maidservant and she bore a child to Avraham whose name was Yishmael. As Sarah became jealous of Hagar, she ordered Hagar and her child to be removed to the desert with few provisions. The next p'sukim recall the ordeal of Ishmael and Hagar as Ishmael lay dying in the unforgiving desert.

Early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar. He placed them over her shoulder, together with the child, and sent her away. And she wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water was gone from the skin, she left the child under one of the bushes,

and went and sat down at a distance, a bowshot away; for she thought, “Let me not look on as the child dies.” And sitting thus afar, she burst into tears.

Genesis 21:14-16 From Sefaria


There is no guidebook for motherhood, there is only love and the deepest need to protect one's child , a need so deep that there are no words to describe it

Hagar's Prayer

This a prayer for the mothers who would move mountains and swim across oceans for their children

But there are some things that are beyond their control

"Sh'ma- Are you listening, God?"

This is a prayer for the mother who must put her children to bed hungry each night and has not the money for food to fill their bellies

"P'kad na- Please, God, watch over them"

This is a prayer for the mother who sends her child to the service of his country in regions far away and she prays for his safe return

"Haksheev na- Please, God, pay heed to him"

This is a prayer for a black mother who sends her child out each day always with the fear of violence against him because of the color of his skin

"Sh'mor na- Please, God, guard him"

This is a prayer for the mother who doesn't know when her next paycheck is coming and needs to raise her children alone, without help

"Azor na- Please, God, help them"

This is a prayer for the mother who loves her child more than life itself and that child is ill and she is powerless to help

"Refa na- Please, God, heal her"

This is a prayer for mothers who send their children into the desert or onto ships to find a better life for themselves.

"Magen na- Please , God, shield them"

This is a prayer for the mothers who willingly gave their children to strangers to raise during the war, never knowing if they would see them again

"Z'chor na- Please, God, remember them"

This is Hagar's prayer for the mothers who hear their children's cries but cannot help them

They close their ears because the sounds of the cries are too painful.

They close their eyes so as not to see their suffering.

Hagar, you understand this.

This is your prayer, Hagar, a prayer of closed eyes and open hearts,

of ears waiting to hear from angels.

This is your prayer, Hagar, coming from a deep pit of unlimited tears, a well of sorrow

Hagar's prayers were answered

God heard

A mother's prayer, a mother's sob, a mother's tangled sounds


The angels answered

"Avinu She'baShamayim, Z'chor, Magen, Refa, Sh'mor, Haksheev, P'kad, Shema


As you heard Hagar's prayers, please hear the prayers of mothers.


Psalm 147

"He heals their broken hearts, and binds up their wounds."

הָ֭רֹפֵא לִשְׁב֣וּרֵי לֵ֑ב וּ֝מְחַבֵּ֗שׁ לְעַצְּבוֹתָֽם

Image taken from Wikepedia Hagar and the Angel in the Wilderness, by Francesco Cozza

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