Well being

We learn in this week’s portion of Torah that Isaac specializes in digging wells. Still, it takes him three tries to do it right. The first two wells are dug by Isaac’s servants (vayachp’ru). The third time Isaac takes personal responsibility, doing the digging himself (vayachpor) (Gen. 26:19, 21, 22). The name given to each well describes its effect on people. The first two are called ‘argumentation’ and ‘accusation’. The third is named ‘spaciousness’ (Rehovot). Personal involvement makes for expanse.

And yet, it’s easy to be misled by this sequence of well-digging efforts. It’s easy to conclude that it’s promoting rugged individualism. 

But events that follow, namely the more expansive pact with Isaac’s neighbors at Beer Sheva, make it clear that this passage isn’t promoting a solo lifestyle or being unable to rely on others. It’s rather about diligence as we’re meant to teach our children diligently, and not vicariously, so too we aren’t supposed to outsource our portion of responsibility. 

We all thirst for resources that promote well-being. When you’re in a good mood, you’re more likely to be attentive to the needs of others. That is, when you’re better company with yourself, you’re more available to be better company with others. 

Well springs are an apt description of what we seek these days. They bubble and brim with refreshing energy and spiritual goods. When they quench our thirst, they help us rise. And when we rise, may we do so kindly, in the service of those around us.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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