Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Toldos 5632 First Ma'amar
This week’s parsha relates the story of the three wells that Yitzchak’s servants dug. (Breishis 26:19-22) Yitzchak called the first two wells Eisek and Sitnah respectively. He called the third well Rechovos. These names relate to the argument that Yitzchak’s shepherds had with Avimelech’s shepherds regarding ownership of the wells. However, the Sfas Emes elaborates on the deeper significance behind these names.
The Chidushei HaRim teaches that digging a well in search of water is a metaphor for the search to uncover the Godliness hidden in the physical world.
The first two wells Eisek and Sitnah represent this search during the days of the week. Eisek means to work at and Sitnah comes from the word hate as in hating the evil inclination. During the week, through sincere effort and by totally disdaining the evil inclination, we are able to find the spiritual Godly light that is hidden in the Creation.
Rechovos represents Shabbos. The word Rechovos has the same root as the Hebrew word for expansion. This is in fact the source of the name, “... כִּ־עַתָּה הִרְחִיב ה׳ לָנוּ .../For now, God has expanded for us …” (Breishis 26:22) On Shabbos there is an expansion of the hidden spark of holiness that is within every part of the physical world. It is this spiritual spark of holiness that is the source of physical existence, of life itself in the material world, and on Shabbos it is more revealed.
Our forefathers’ entire service to God was an exercise in uncovering the Godliness in the Creation. Their singular purpose was for our benefit. They did not need to do this for themselves. To them, the holiness inherent in the world was already evident. They worked to reveal God’s glory in the physical world so that we would be able to emulate them and also uncover the holiness that is hidden within the world.
Another well, mentioned in last week’s parsha, was called, “בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי/Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” (Breishis 16:14) What is the significance of this name? Why is it important to note that God sees me? The Sfas Emes teaches the significance of God’s observation. In the description of the Creation at the beginning of parshas Breishis, as each stage of Creation comes to a close we find the declaration, “וַיַּרְא אֱ-לֹהִים כִּי־טוֹב/God saw that it was good.” (Breishis 1:4,10,12,18,21,25) The Sfas Emes explains that God’s observation and His Providence are one and the same. God bestows good upon His Creation by observing it. The good that God bestows is the Divine which manifests as the physical existence and life that is this world. It is God’s observation/Providence which gives life to the Creation.
The Well of the Living One Who Sees Me refers to this idea. God seeing me is the same as saying that God’s
is with me. It is the good that is within me that God “sees” thus giving me life, just as He saw the good in every aspect of the Creation thus causing its existence. We are enjoined to emulate God, connect with the hidden spirituality and see the good that is inherent in everyone and everything. Providence