Toledot
For the week of December 2, 2000 / 5 Kislev 5761
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 25:19 - 28:9
Haftarah: Malachi 1:1-2:7

Old Wells

Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them (Bereshit / Genesis 26:18).

Isaac, like his father Abraham before him and his son Jacob after him, had to live in a variety of locations due to the scarcity of food and water. It was during a famine that Isaac went to live in Philistine territory. Looking for a place to settle, he came upon some of the wells that his father had dug that had since been stopped up by the Philistines. So he reopened them and gave them the original names his father gave them.

Stopped up wells are not good things! Those of us who live in places that have an abundant water supply have little or no appreciation for this. Many of us have instant and easy access to a seemingly infinite supply of water. But those of you who depend on well water can relate to Isaac.

We dig wells when we donít have easy access to water. Sometimes wells have to be dug very, very deep. Could you imagine what it would have been like for Isaac to come to another of his fatherís wells only to find it stopped up. Abraham and his household had worked hard to get water, and now Isaac had to do the work all over again. He probably didnít do as much work as those who originally dug the well, but it must have seemed futile to have to dig again.

But was there another choice? To not dig was not an option, and starting from scratch would be silly. So they unstopped the old wells.

Do we have stopped up wells in our lives? Not literal ones perhaps, but there are things that are like wells that we desperately need to unstop.

There are things in life that we have a right to because of the hard labor of those that have gone before. Yet for reasons that we may not know, we are prevented from deriving their benefit. They are like stopped up wells. For example a relative or a member of our faith community may have experienced certain spiritual things that today we know very little about. Something happened between now and then that has blocked our own experience of them. From time to time we may think about those things as if we were staring at an old well, wishing that we too could have what they had.

But we can. We just need to open up the old wells.

Donít think that because these "wells" are blocked that the richness now hidden from us is not to be uncovered again. We often spend too much time being discouraged over the fact of the blockage instead of digging. The good news is these are not new wells. When digging a new well, you donít know what is there. Old wells almost always have water. We know what others experienced in the past. We often know the process they went through. We donít have to start at the very beginning. We just need to remove the blockages whatever they may be.

Maybe you do not know of people in your past who dug spiritual wells, but if you believe in the God of the Scriptures, then you do. What the people in the Bible discovered in their day can be ours today. Donít be discouraged by what you and others around you are not experiencing. Go and unstop those wells!

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