I was reading ArtScroll' machzor's commentary to the Torah reading on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, which they say was taken from ArtScroll's Bereishis. After being told that Yishmael was dying, the verse in Genesis 21:17 says:

כִּֽי־שָׁמַ֧ע אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶל־ק֥וֹל הַנַּ֖עַר בַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר הוּא־שָֽׁם

Hashem heard the cry of the youth according to how he is there.

In ArtScroll's commentary, they bring the explanation of Rashi. They summarize it by writing that Yishmael repented and prayed for mercy. The angels argued that Yishmael's descendants will kill innocent Jews, and he shouldn't be saved. Hashem told them that He was judging him according to how he was then at that moment, and not taking the future into account. Since he is presently righteous, he should be saved.

My problem is Rashi doesn't say that Yishmael repented. In fact, the commentaries on Rashi explicitly ask that Chazal only tell us that Yishmael repented when Avraham died, implying he didn't repent earlier (see Minchas Yehudah ad. loc.). They therefore are bothered why the Midrash Rashi brings says Yishmael is righteous. They give different explanations [1, 2, for example], but they don't say that he repented.

Where is ArtScroll coming from? The simple reading of Rashi? How can they ignore the commentaries on Rashi? Is there a different commentary that I haven't seen that they are using?

  • You can't repent twice in your life?
    – ezra
    Oct 7, 2018 at 23:54
  • @ezra it's a chiddush he did it at all, so if we're told he did it once I would assume no other time
    – robev
    Oct 8, 2018 at 0:01

2 Answers 2


First of all, I subsequently looked at ArtScroll's Bereishis. I could find no reference to the fact that Yishmael repented. They simply brought the commentaries on Rashi which I quoted in the question. Either this is a mistake, or I looked in the wrong spot, or an older version or something.

Either way, even though all the commentaries I saw on Rashi say that Yishmael was guilty of his crimes at that point in the Torah, one stood out as saying like ArtScroll's commentary: The Maharshal in Yeriyos Shlomo ד"ה אמרו לו.

ואני אומר לכל הפירושים היה צדיק כיון שהיה מתחרט על עונותיו ואפשר היה מתודה עליהם ומשום הכי שמע הקב"ה לתפלתו אלא שהמלאכים אמרו וכי בעבור זה אתה עושה לו נס שממנו תקלה יצא לישראל וכו'‏

I say, according to all the explanations, [Yishmael] was righteous. This is because he regreted his transgressions, and perhaps he confessed over them. This is why Hashem listened to his prayers. It's just that the Angels were saying that because of this [repentance, Hashem] will make a miracle for him? This will cause a tragedy for the Jews.


When he was a child, he didn't actually sin yet. So why did Sarah wish to have them expelled? Because he exhibited evil behavior. At the moment by the be'er, though, he was still righteous since he didn't actually start sinning. When he was older, he sinned and later regretted them at or prior to the funeral of Avraham.

  • Sources would greatly improve this answer.
    – ezra
    Oct 7, 2018 at 23:55
  • According to what you wrote, Yishmael had nothing to repent for at the be'er
    – robev
    Oct 8, 2018 at 3:18
  • @robev Right...please prove otherwise. Oct 8, 2018 at 13:20
  • The whole question was why did ArtScroll say he repented...
    – robev
    Oct 8, 2018 at 13:21
  • @robev Ask them, don't ask on mi yodea. Oct 8, 2018 at 13:37

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