Sunday, November 27, 2011

keep digging

The Torah recounts how multiple times Yitzchak dug wells only to be met with hostility from the Plishtim which prevented him from enjoying the water.  Finally, after multiple tries, he managed to dig a well and was able to use the water with no machlokes.   

What is the Torah trying to teach us in this story of the wells?  The Chofetz Chaim explains that we think the spiritual achievements of the Yitzchak Avinu's of the world come easily, but this is because we only look at the end of the story.  We don't see the trial and error, the false starts and failed attempts; we don't see all the wells that were dug that did not produce water or had to be discarded.  The Torah wants us to know that even the greatest giants had wells that could not be used. 

Ain mayin elah Torah.  It takes a lot of digging to finally get that well that produces a spiritual bounty.  The difference between gadlus and failure is not giving up along the way.


  1. Anonymous9:16 AM

    >>> not giving up along the way

    would Yitzchak himself have been throwing down a shovel, or only his servants? twice they dug, twice were challenged; when Yitzchak used his own hands* there followed spacious peace

    {did Yitzchak apply himself as manager, as hydrologist, as prayer-leader, of the 1st & 2nd wells?}

    *as did the rabbis for Shabbos, 119a

  2. Anonymous1:30 PM

    the above comment should read
    'digs' rather than "wells" {as Rava said, even if he put his hand in his pocket to take 3 coins & took only 2, this is yesurim!}

  3. Anonymous6:47 PM

    to what extent was the 2-time
    failure to secure a needed water-source a reflection on Yitzchak's
    leadership? more abstractly, how
    does a leader suffer a project failure more than his hands-on
    underlings? is invested seichel more vulnerable to disappointment than invested heart or sweat?
    does his knowledge of the
    big picture & his greater
    responsibility mean that a leader
    did or does the most or deepest
    "digging" (of whatever sort)?

  4. Anonymous11:03 PM

    "keep digging"!

    (a fresh[?] soil sample)
    Yitzchak had to Suffer relocation
    Because Avraham didn't promptly & of his own fulfill his pledge to Lot, that if you go left, I'll go right etc.; after the herdsmen of these 2 quarrelled, only Lot went his way; Avraham stayed put (yashav, 13:12) until Hashem positively bid him move on to the breadth (u'l'rachbah, 13:17) of the
    land; later, herdsmen of Gerar
    quarrelled with Yitzchak's herdsmen until the son of Avraham
    picked himself up & relocated to wide spaces (rechovos, 26:22), & the Gerarites stayed pleasantly put...

    keep digging!

  5. Rav Kook, zt"kl brings another interesting aspect. From the description of how Yitzchak Avinu went back to the wells, clearly he and his father had abandoned them after the family moved to Beer Sheva. The Phlishtim could only have benefited from them, especially since there always seemed to be a famine happening, yet they stopped them up!
    Rav Kook notes that this is a response of the hostile non-Jewish world to our returning to rebuild Israel. Even if it causes them suffering they will do what they can just so they can say they sabotaged us. It is only after our repeated success in the face of such adversity do they finally come to realize that "God is with you in all that you do"

  6. I like it -- where is this R' Kook piece?

  7. shoyn6:31 PM

    gashmake shiur on significance of digging wells