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A Shabbat Nugget: Parashat Toldot

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the life of Isaac. In contrast to Abraham which the Torah devotes three portions writing about his life, the Torah only devotes one portion to the life of Isaac. One of the central themes of the Torah portion is a detailed description of Isaac digging wells in various locations. What lesson is the Torah teaching us when it teaches us about Isaac’s wells?

The Torah teaches us  that Abraham’s mission was to spread divine awareness and educate humanity.  He did this primarily through inspiring people with his teachings, however, while inspiration is an extremely valuable part of our lives, it has a shortcoming in that it is usually not enduring.  A person can get inspired and wake up the following morning without feeling inspired. Isaac being the second Father of the Jewish nation, introduced the concept of discipline and change of character and while discipline is not as high and exciting as inspiration, it insures that the spiritual experience endures since it actually changed the person.

This is alluded to in Isaac’s occupation of digging wells.  The process of digging a well is to remove the dirt until you uncover the wellspring of water.  This was precisely Isaac’s methodology of divine service.  He taught people to take a candid look at themselves and confront their psychological blocks that keep them from living the way G-d wants and thereby uncover their inner wellspring of goodness.

 

About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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