The Isaac Well Factor
Discipline, being calculated, stringency are all qualities that we employ in our lives for our personal well-being, as well as those under our purview. Imagine a world where that wasn’t the case. We’d eat whatever we want, we’d say whatever is on our mind, we’d all be nomads living unproductive lives.
Conversely, if discipline and calculation rules the day, where is the joy, where is joie de vivre? Is that gloomy world the one that G-d wants?
In fact we need a balance between the two. But which one ought to dominate?
These weeks we read about Abraham and Isaac the first two of our Patriarchs. Throughout Avrohom’s life we see his kindness manifest in everything he does. Kindness to the stranger, care for the passerby’s, defense of people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaac is epitomized in the teachings of Jewish mysticism as the attribute of discipline.
One telling verse according to the Zohar sheds light on this question.
We read the story of Abraham rebukes Abimlelech for the theft of a well that Abraham had dug by Abimelech’s shepherds. Abraham and Abimelech make a pact to ensure harmonious existence. Abraham says, these seven lambs, take from my hind as a witness that I dug this well.
The Zohar says that “I dug this well” refers to Isaac’s well!
The obvious question is where does Isaac’s well factor into this discussion?
Abraham’s well that he dug was stopped up and only later do we read how Isaac opened up these wells again. It was only Isaac’s effort that ensured the wells survived and were successful.
While kindness ought to be the source and core of everything we do – a movement towards, love, connection – if we don’t employ discipline we simply won’t succeed. The kindness will simply not have shelf life.