The ‘Well’ that travels with the Avos

By RABBI SHAUL DOV FELMAN

BS”D
Vayeitzei 5764

The Posuk relates (Bereishis 29,1) that Yaakov raised his feet and went towards ‘Artza Bnei Kedem.’ The Posuk continues that he then saw a well in the field. I find these Pesukim strange to comprehend. Is the point that he reached his destination? If so, the Posuk should not have said that he went to “Artza Bnei kedem’ rather that he arrived at ‘Artza Bnei Kedem.’ On the other hand if the Posuk means to state that he saw the well already before he departed, why is it necessary to teach us that he lifted his feet that only took place afterwards?

When we stop to think about the lives of our Avos, it seems that there is a great difference between that of Yaakov and of his predecessors, Avrohom and Yitzchok. Just like the characteristics that they represent, Chessed and Gevurah, which they do so in an extreme form, their involvement’s were in matters that are difficult to conceptualize, let alone to draw from to our every day lives. Avrohom Ovinu for instance recognized his Creator at the age of three years old (according to some opinions in Chazal). Imagine the strength of the brainpower that was needed to come up with such a conclusion at a time when idolatry was so rampant! Take for instance Avrohom Ovinu taking on single-handedly the greatest powers of the world in order to save Lot. He merited tremendous miracles that made his efforts successful. That certainly doesn’t help us in our every day life. About Yitzchok we are informed of his tremendous ‘Mesirus Nefesh’ in extending his neck for his father to slaughter him. This is certainly very admirable. Later we are taught extensively about his digging of wells. No question, as the Ramban explains, that Yitzchok had very heavenly intentions when digging these wells. Once again, this doesn’t leave us with much to walk away with.

This all changes with the oncoming of Yaakov Ovinu, who represents the blending of the characteristics of his forefathers. Yaakov is involved with very mundane matters. He must choose a wife, tend to a family and be a source of “Parnasah.” These are all matters that we are quite familiar with. This when Yaakov merited the title of ‘Kedosh Yaakov.’ (See Nesivos Shalom) Indeed he is involved with the mundane and excels in those conditions. He merits being called a ‘Kadosh.’ Chazal taught us “Kadesh Atzmecha Bemuttar Lach” sanctify yourself in what is permitted to you! (See Ramban at the beginning of Parshas Kedoshim) Moreso, Yaakov at this junction of his life merited becoming the fourth leg of the ‘Merkava’ the ‘Heavenly Charriot.’ In a sense he reached the level of Odom Harishon before the sin!

As we follow the exile of Yaakov to the house of Lavan we are reminded of the Zohar Hakadosh that equates the exile of Yaakov to that of Klal Yisroel after the Churban Bayis. “Vayeitzei Yaakov Mibeer Sheva” “Vayeitze Mibas Tziyon Kol Hadarah.” Indeed the Pri Tzaddik explains that this is the meaning of the section in the Haggadah of ‘Tzei Ulemad Mah Bikeish Lavan Haarami” coming immediately after “Vehi Sheamdah.” The same Hakadosh Boruch Hu that saves us in every generation from our enemies is He that saved Yaakov when he went to ‘Galus’ in the house of Lavan. We are well familiar with the rule that we have been taught that ‘Maaseh Avos Siman Lebonim’ the events that our forefathers underwent are in a capsule form what will inevitably befall their progeny. Yaakov’s ‘Golus’ was the root of all the exiles that his children would need to undergo.

We must be reminded though, that the fact that Klal Yisroel are in Golus does not mean that the opportunity for success has been taken away from them. On the contrary, “Ki Rabim Bnei Shomema” - For greater are the children of the desolate…(Yeshayahu 54,1. Haftarah of Parshas Ki Teitzei) In Golus Bavel was the “Charash and Masgeir” Mordechai and his friends that brought on the establishment of the ‘Anshei Knesses Hagedolah.’ In our ‘Golus’ the ‘Mishnah’, Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi were authored. Let alone all the tremendous of those that followed them. Great strides were made in the building of Klal Yisroel throughout the generations. This all stems from Yaakovs ability to build Klal Yisroel ‘davka’ during his period of exile. Where did Yaakov and for that matter the Jewish people, muster up the strength to stand up to the test of ‘Golus?’

The answer lies in the teaching of Chazal (see Pirkei D’Reb Eliezer’ Chap. 35) that a well always traveled with our forefathers. When Yaakov drinks from that ‘Heavenly’ well, he has the strength to build Klal Yisroel. For us that well represents the ‘Torah She’Baal Peh’ which is symbolized in well that is constantly flowing. Many a ‘Sefer Torah’ have been removed from the ‘Aron Kodesh’ and been burnt over the generations but the flame of fire that runs in the heart of the leaders of every generation and is passed from one to another can never be extinguished.

Let us return to Yaakov’s travels. Rashi explains that when Yaakov heard the wonderful news that Hakadosh Boruch Hu promised him that he would watch over him, his heart raised his feet and it became light for him to travel. Let us ponder for a moment the situation that Yaakov Ovinu finds himself in. He is running away from Eisav that has threatened his life. He hasn’t been home for fourteen full years. He has already had the fortune to meet Elifaz, that robbed him from all his money to assure that he would be like a poor man that is considered as dead. (See Rashi) He is on his way to his Uncle “Lavanke” whose infamous reputation was well known to all. How meaningful then are the words of the Sforno that points out that normally in difficult circumstances, the standard conduct is, that one’s feet drag him, when he is in a situation of distress and confusion. To put it frankly, he can barely move! Here in regard to Yaakov we see an incredible phenomenon. He raised his feet! As Rashi explained his ‘Bitachon’ in the promise he had received from Hakadosh Boruch Hu inspired him to the point that he rose up and traveled with vigor even though he had no idea to where he was going. At that point, when through his ‘Bitachon’ he went on to his unknown destination, he merited seeing the well. This is well that the Mishna in Avos (Chap 5) teaches us was created Erev Shabbos ‘Bein Hashmashos.’ This is the well that travels with the Avos in all their sojourns. The very same well would inevitably travel with the Jewish people for forty years in the ‘Wilderness.’ Throughout the generations, the well is always there for us. We need only open our eyes to see it. In reference to Hagar we see as well that Hashem opened her eyes (Bereishis 21,19) and she then saw the well. (See Medrash Rabba 53,14 Reb Binyomin Ben Yefes says: All are considered blind until Hashem opens their eyes.)

When Yaakov lifted his feet, the well was revealed to him. The very well that would stay with him for all twenty years of his stay in the house of Lavan. In fact, the Targum Yonasan (31,22) points out that the way Lavan knew that Yaakov had run away was when they saw that the well that had been flowing for twenty years, since Yaakov’s arrival at the scene, had stopped flowing. With the strength of the well, Yaakov prepared the ‘Guf’ of Klal Yisroel to the point of the six hundred thousand that are hinted to in the acronym of the word ‘Yisroel’ Yesh Shishim Ribo Osiyos Letorah. It is to this “Guf’ that Moshe rabeinu would later be able to bring down the soul of Klal Yisroel, the Holy Torah. However, lest not forget, that it is the image of Yaakov Ovinu that is etched out on Hakadosh Boruch Hu’s ‘Heavenly Throne.’

Let us draw inspiration from Yaakov Ovinu. We have been promised that Hakadosh Boruch Hu will not forsake us. Let us lift our feet and not be afraid of the unknown. Certainly, we are so close to the Geulah. If we will continue on with inspiration, no doubt we will also merit seeing the well that went with our Avos. This will give us the strength to continue till Hakadosh Boruch Hu will redeem us with the ‘Geulah Shlaima’ speedily in our days.

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