Toldot – Wells

The actions of our forefathers are a “sign post” for us.  They help give us direction and offer us a clue what is going on in our own lives.  Therefore, when we see that the main activity associated with Isaac, the second of our fore-fathers, was digging wells, this is a sign and guidance for us as well.  The Ramban tells us that these three wells dug by Isaac were symbolic of the three temples, two of them already built and destroyed, and the third to be built in the future, God willing speedily in our days. Not only that, but from the Ramban we understand that each of the forefathers was associated with one of the three temples.

We can begin to understand this association by understanding bodies of water in Jewish law (halacha). The two bodies of water mentioned in the Torah for purification purposes are a mikveh, which is made up of a small amount of naturally occuring water with a larger amount of drawn water, and a “fountain” (ma’ayan), which is a body of naturally flowing water.  The latter has more purifying power than a mikveh; while a mikveh needs a fixed amount of natural water, any amount of ma’ayan water in addition to drawn water has full purification powers.

There is, however, a third body of water – a be’er, or “well” – which combines qualities of a mikveh and a fountain.  While the mikveh symbolizes the power of man to act from below to above (because most of the water of a mikveh is “drawn” by manpower), the fountain (ma’ayan) symbolizes the power of God to act from Above (because the most minute amount of fountain water has the potency to purify).  A well demands effort from man from below, but when we find the water, it flows of its own accord, similar to spirituality descending from Above.

The same is true of the three temples; like wells, they demand effort from below as well as unlimited response from Above.  The effort came in finding the physical location of the first Temple, and the response was in the sacrifices to which God descended “like a lion crouching” as well as the unlimited revelation of Godliness that all Jews experienced in the Temple.  Because there was more effort from below expended in the building of the second Temple, it actually lasted longer than the first Temple (420 years as opposed to 410 years).  Therefore, Isaac, the second of the forefathers, also represents the concept of permanence.  Isaac was the forefather who placed the most emphasis upon effort from below of man to find Godliness.  That is why he dug wells – they represent the concept of man digging within himself to perfect and refine his nature, and therefore to attract and shine with Godliness.  When we remove the dirt, dust and obstacles is when the water can flow – when Godliness can descend from Above.

For more details and explanation, go to

From Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol. 30, pp 116-124

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: