Cleaving to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
שכן בארץ אשר אומר אליך
“And make us merit to come to the Land of Israel, the place of our sanctity, the source of faith, of prayer, of miracles, the source of life, the source of Israel’s closeness to their Father in Heaven…” (Likutei Tfilot 9)
The Land of Israel is the source of Godliness in this world, as a wellspring is the source of streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Wellsprings take a dominant place in this week’s parsha. Halachically, wells in the Land of Israel take an important role as well. Based on Talmud Eruvin 21a Rambam rules that only at wells in the Land of Israel can one use the special permit to use the simplistic “well polls” (pasei beraot), even without a regular ‘eruv’, to draw water on Shabbat from a well for drinking on that spot. This permit was given uniquely to the Land of Israel which is meant to contain many Torah scholars, as befitting its spiritual status, who need this well-water to continue their journey for their studies. We can see the importance of the wells of this Land also in this parsha as Yitzhak digs numbers of wells in the Land of Israel that become the source of important cities such as Rehovot and Beer Sheva.
Considering our analysis of Hebron in the past as being the most prominent city where all our Patriarchs both lived and were buried, it seems essential to examine the relationship of Hebron to other cities the Patriarchs spent considerable amounts of time developing. One such city is, without doubt, Beer Sheva, where Avraham lived for 26 years after Hebron, and also where Yitzhak lived for an extensive period. Although there is very much to study about Hebron and Beer Sheva, a good place to start is the analysis of these cities’ names. Also, an in-depth study should include the understanding that the Patriarchs were highly spiritual figures, and as such it follows that they saw special spiritual “missions” at these specific locations.
In the past, we have shown how Israel are compared to a husband and the Land to a wife by Isaiah (62, 2), a matter that is echoed both in halachic and esoteric Torah sources as not only being a metaphor, but an essential description of Israel’s connection to the Holy Land. We also described how Hebron means “unity”, being the source of the unity, the “betrothal”, so-to-speak, in Avraham’s acquisition of Maarat HaMachpela, which represents the “betrothal” between Israel, the husband, and the Holy Land, the wife. This “unity” or “betrothal” is not only established by monetary purchase, but also through Avraham’s dedicated settlement and burial in Hebron which preceded and followed this purchase. Fascinatingly, we find that Avraham’s main shift to a different location other than Hebron, namely Beer Sheva, comes with the birth of Yitzhak. Time and time again we find Yitzhak associated with wells, whether seeming to spark the advent of Beer – the “well of” – Sheva at his birth, whether spending considerable time at “Beer” – the “well of” – “Lehai Roi” at the time he meets and marries Rivka, or whether occupied with wells to a great extent as seen in this week’s parsha.
This matter can be explained by our Sages’ apprehension that Yitzhak, of all the Patriarchs, represents the more feminine (even though a man) relationship towards God. Our Sages explain that wells represent feminine spirituality, just as a well represents how the Feminine Land (as above in the “betrothal” of Hebron) gives forth to vitality – water. Our Sages explain that is for this very reason why all the wives of Yitzhak, Yaakov, and Moshe, were all found by a well. Therefore, we may say that Hebron represents the essential union between “husband” and “wife” through which our Patriarchs, and especially Yitzhak, reached Beer Sheva (“Sheva” also connotes the feminine as in Bat Sheva and the 7th day Shabat ‘Queen’) to elevate the power of the “wife”, i.e the power of the Holy Presence as it “emerges and flows” from the Holy Land.
Therefore, we may understand why even Yitzhak returns to Hebron in his later life and is also buried here, for a primary goal of elevating the power of the Holy Presence of the Land is ultimately to bond it to the Holy People in harmonious Union – Hebron.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #145
“Just before going to Kever Rachel on her yahrzeit I planned to make random corrections on a sefer Torah I was working on. How surprised was I to find that the psukim (verses) I randomly chose were just about Rachel’s passing in parshat Vayishlah!” Y.N.K.