The Kli Yakar discusses the three wells that Yitzchak excavates, and which the Torah details at length, in this week’s parsha. (Breishis 26:14-33)
The the three wells, says the Kli Yakar, are veiled references to the three Batei Mikdash.
וַיָּרִיבוּ רֹעֵי גְרָר עִם רֹעֵי יִצְחָק לֵאמֹר לָנוּ הַמָּיִם וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הַבְּאֵר עֵשֶׂק כִּי הִתְעַשְּׂקוּ עִמּוֹ
And the shepherds of Gerar quarreled with Yitzchak’s shepherds, saying, “The water is ours”; so he named the well Esek, because they had contended with him.
This is the second Beis HaMikdash, which was defined by hatred between everyone – an even worse set of circumstances than the first. The Torah emphasizes that the first conflict over the wells was fought by the shepherds; a metaphor for the leaders, similar to the struggle for leadership by the destruction of the First Temple. The second quarrel “they” just fought; it was baseless hatred. Furthermore, they failed to heed the lesson of the first well (and Temple): וַיָּרִיבוּ גַּם עָלֶיהָ = “they fought about this one too”.
The third excavation, however, had no such strife:
And he moved away from there, and he dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rechovot, and he said, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”
The third well is defined by peace. The word for peace is שלום, from the root שלם = whole. With peace, there is wholeness, harmony and room for expansion.
Chazal teach us that Eisav’s offspring can only be defeated by Rachel’s offspring (Bava Basra 123b).
By contrast, Yosef takes an entirely different approach following Yaakov’s passing in dealing with his brothers who wronged him. Following Yaakov’s passing, the brothers say (Breishis 50:15):
The brothers were afraid that Yosef would take revenge on them for selling him, and now that Yaakov has passed away, it would be time for reckoning. Yosef, however, forgives them unconditionally, bearing no grudge, understanding it was all Hashem’s plan (50:21):
Also interesting to contrast language when Eisav decides to kill Yaakov, versus when Yosef eases his brothers’ fears.
As offspring of Rachel we have this middah of being able to let go of hatred, correcting the sin’at chinam which destroyed Bayis Sheini, so that we may usher in Bayis Shlishi.
Vayeira opens with Avraham being visited by three men/angels, bearing wonderful news of Sarah’s impending pregnancy.
As written in the Torah, there are three nekudos on top of the word אֵלָיו ; one on the Alef, the Yud and the Vav.
These three dotted letters together spell Ayo, meaning, “Where is he?” Rashi explains that the angels asked two questions; one to Avraham asking the whereabouts of Sarah, and one to Sarah asking the whereabouts of Avraham. (Rashi quotes Breishis Rabba, which says that these questions teach us the trait of inquiring about one’s hosts. To a man one should ask, “How is your wife?” and to a woman, “How is your husband?”)
The Kli Yakar, however, asked a fairly obvious question – why did the angels have to inquire about Avraham and Sarah’s locations? (A) The angles knew each of Avraham and Sarah’s locations (seeing as how they were messengers of Hashem), and (B) the text even tells us in the immediately preceding passuk, that Avraham was standing over them!
Avraham answers – בָאֹהֶל – allegorically speaking, ‘we are the recipients of this miracle on the merit of the tent.’
On the other side of the same coin, Avraham kept their tent open to guests, travelers, and those wanting to learn more about Hashem. So Sarah, answers, ‘we merited this miracle because of the chessed and the kindness with which Avraham conducts himself in the tent.’
A few lessons highlighted here, is that a couple can be so successful when each spouse recognizes the other’s strengths, attributing the blessings in their lives to the greatness of the other; and, that the home (ohel) and the manner in which it functions, sets the tone for the family living in it.
One final point I would like to make is to stress not only Sarah’s modesty, but also Avraham’s: In the first five verses of Vayeira, there is no reference to Avraham’s name, only being referred to in the anonymous 3rd person:
The text uses Avraham’s name for the first time to tell us that “Avraham hurried to the tent to Sarah…and to the cattle ran Avraham” (18:6-7).
When Avraham comes back to serve his guests and stand by them, the text reverts to the 3rd person:
Avraham just received this new name in Parshas Lech Lecha, as the Av Hamon Goyim – a tremendous honor. Yet the Torah spares us the usage of the name when angels are visiting him, but includes it to talk about Avraham running to the cattle?!
Perhaps an explanation (based in part on an idea from Rav Nison Alpert ztl) is that Avraham did not think the angels were visiting him because he was anyone so special. He was sitting outside in the heat, welcoming any traveler who might be passing by. But when it came time to make a kiddush Hashem and prepare for his guests, as an agent of Hashem, then he did so with the zeal and responsibility as Avraham – Av Hamon Goyim. Avraham could not control who came to the opening of his tent. Whoever came – perhaps he thought – did so because Hashem sent them, having nothing to do with Avraham’s greatness; but what he could control, is how he acted as their humble, and privileged host. If Hashem was calling upon him to serve and enlighten others, then Avraham’s actions had to be taken as the agent of Hashem.
Perhaps we can also say that Avraham’s excitement and haste to serve his guests, is somehow connected to the signs given to Eliezer in the next parsha, upon finding Rivka as a wife for Yitzchak. There is a parallel that seems to exist between the two stories – both involve hurrying to serve foreigners, and the language employed in both is virtually identical:
Rivkah in 24:20:
וַתְּמַהֵר וַתְּעַר כַּדָּהּ אֶל-הַשֹּׁקֶת וַתָּרָץ עוֹד אֶל הַבְּאֵר לִשְׁאֹב וַתִּשְׁאַב לְכָל גְּמַלָּיו
Together, on account of their collective middot, Avraham and Sarah merited a miraculous birth, a tzaddik of a son, and a tzaddeikes of a daughter-in-law.
After Bnei Yisrael are commanded (reminded) not to consume the blood of an animal, Moshe provides a strong incentive to listen:
The nature of a father (parent), flows into and can get passed down to children. Therefore, the Torah says that avoiding blood will be “good for you and for your children after you” so that the terrible trait of cruelty does not flow from you into future generations.
The full section inside:
Perhaps somewhat allegorically, the Torah is highlighting the importance of the examples that parents set for their children. A parent’s tremendous influence can either have incredibly positive or disastrously negative outcomes. If a parent has cruel traits – whether it be from literally consuming blood (unlikely these days) or simply not keeping his/her anger and emotions in check – then, as the Kli Yakar notes, that can easily, and tragically, be passed down to a child, whether intentionally or not. Assuring that we don’t have such traits will be good for us and for our children
On the flip side, if a parent has the traits of loving Hashem and demonstrating thanks to Hashem for all the good He has provided, then that example will hopefully be seen and emulated by that parent’s children. The root of the Hebrew word for sacrifice – korban – is ק.ר.ב. , which means ‘close/near’. The closeness that a parent strives to achieve with Hashem and cherishes with Hashem, will hopefully be a path adopted by the child, bringing richness and goodness to the parent, child and future generations to come.
|אָנֹכִי ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ הַמַּעַלְךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם הַרְחֶב פִּיךָ וַאֲמַלְאֵהוּ
|I am the Lord your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
|יא כָּל-הַמִּנְחָה אֲשֶׁר תַּקְרִיבוּ לַה’ לֹא תֵעָשֶׂה, חָמֵץ כִּי כָל שְׂאֹר וְכָל דְּבַשׁ, לֹא תַקְטִירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִשֶּׁה לַי-ה-וָ-ה
|11 No meal-offering, which you shall bring to the Lord, shall be made with leaven; for you shall make no leaven nor any honey, smoke as an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
|יב קָרְבַּן רֵאשִׁית תַּקְרִיבוּ אֹתָם לַה’ וְאֶל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא יַעֲלוּ לְרֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ
|12 As an offering of first-fruits you may bring them unto the Lord; but they shall not come up for a sweet savor on the altar.