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Nixon’s Accusations of Jewish Insecurity
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Lone Soldier Week 7
Lone Soldier

 

The Paradoxes of Oil as a Guide for Living
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Rock Promoter and the Genesis of the Public Chanukah Menorah
Ruvi New

 

Why the Tea Party Resonates with Human Dignity
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Lone Soldier Week 6
Lone Soldier

 

The Lone Soldier Week 5
Lone Soldier

 

Jewish Ingratitude to Christians
Shmuley Boteach

 

No Gelt, No Glory
Simcha Weinstein

 

The Lone Soldier Week 4
Lone Soldier

 

A Time to Hate
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Lone Soldier Week 3
Lone Soldier

 

“My Heart Swells with Joy”
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Lone Soldier Week 2
Lone Soldier

 

How Obama Lost his Magic
Shmuley Boteach

 

Rise of the Religious Charlatans
Shmuley Boteach

 

Rupert Murdoch: The 'Soft War' Against Israel
Rupert Murdoch

 

Do We Still Possess the Power to Choose?
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Lone Soldier Week 1
Lone Soldier

 

A Spiritual Night in Hebron
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Religious-Industrial Complex
Shmuley Boteach

 

Ahmedenijad, Media Rock Star
Shmuley Boteach

 

As the Economy Crumbles, Obama Makes Middle East Peace.
Shmuley Boteach

 

When Pastors who Burn Bibles Become Celebrities
Shmuley Boteach

 

If an American President Were Muslim, Would we Care?
Shmuley Boteach

 

My Purpose in Debating Christopher Hitchens on the Afterlife
Shmuley Boteach

 

Suicide Bombers in Heaven? Imam Rauf Won’t Say No
Shmuley Boteach

 

Extravagant Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs Humiliate the Jewish Community
Shmuley Boteach

 

When Psycho Flight Attendants Become Heroes
Shmuley Boteach

 

Iran’s Descent Into Barbarity
Shmuley Boteach

 

Let the Families of 9/11 Decide the Fate of the Ground Zero Mosque
Shmuley Boteach

 

Time Magazine’s Bizarre Assault on Large Families
Shmuley Boteach

 

Tom Friedman’s Soft Spot for Terrorist Fadlallah
Shmuley Boteach

 

Kaddafi’s Ship to Gaza, and His Ark in New Jersey.
Shmuley Boteach

 

What We Lose When We Win
Shmuley Boteach

 

Al Gore’s Moral Confusion
Shmuley Boteach

 

Peace and Zealotry
Simon Jacobson

 

Theater review - 'The Adventures of Hershele Ostropolyer'
Yudi Lewis

 

What McChrystal’s Firing Says about American Values
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Rebbe and Viktor Frankl
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Michael Jackson’s Life Could have Been Saved
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Psychiatrist and The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

BP, Kaddafi, and Britain’s Oil Comeuppance
Shmuley Boteach

 

Helen Thomas and the Open Season on the Jews
Shmuley Boteach

 

Did the Lubavitcher Rebbe Con the World?
Shmuley Boteach

 

Fergie’s Fall
Simcha Weinstein

 

Sderot Report
Noam Bedein

 

Why All The Stress?
Mimi Hecht

 

Obama’s Jewish Charm Offensive
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Jewish Woman’s 10 Commandments
Mimi Hecht

 

Is a Giant Mosque at Ground Zero Justified?
Shmuley Boteach

 

South Park: Seriously Funny
Simcha Weinstein

 

Mother’s Day for the Childless
Mimi Hecht

 

Open Letter to J-Street after their Attack on Elie Wiesel
Shmuley Boteach

 

Life and Death
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Religion’s Summer of Discontent
Shmuley Boteach

 

Is Israel Being Stubborn?
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

When a Pope Needs Friends
Shmuley Boteach

 

My Five Cents
Mimi Hecht

 

Condemn His Report, But Welcome Goldstone
Shmuley Boteach

 

What The President Does Not Understand
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

A Lesson from Zaidy and Nona
Mimi Hecht

 

Does a Kosher Butcher’s Fraud Mandate a Life Sentence?
Shmuley Boteach

 

Don’t Kill the Love
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

A Fallible Pope, and Imperfect Church
Shmuley Boteach

 

Obama and the Deafening Silence of American Jewry
Shmuley Boteach

 

Obama's Hospitality: A Question of Character
Shmuley Boteach

 

From Globalism to Parochialism
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Matzah Moms
Mimi Hecht

 

Obama's Bullying of Israel
Shmuley Boteach

 

A Fashionable Promise
Mimi Hecht

 

Why America Has No Chief Rabbi
Shmuley Boteach

 

The Malady of a Maid
Mimi Hecht

 

The Human Miracle
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

When Court Jews Defend Moral Cowards
Shmuley Boteach

 

Is it Okay to be Fat?
Mimi Hecht

 

Why America is the Most Depressed Nation on Earth
Shmuley Boteach

 

My Blackberry Baby
Mimi Hecht

 

Never Again !
Shmully Hecht

 

Heads over Heels
Mimi Hecht

 

The Death of Conviction
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

How to Deal with Destructive Emotions
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

When You Are Not in the Mood of Your Spouse
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Discovering Your Depth
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Consciousness of Freedom
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Ten Ways to Destroy Your Life
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

The Enemy Within
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

Are You a Hypocrite?
Yosef Y. Jacobson

 

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The Sandy Path to Inspiration
By Yosef Y. Jacobson
 

 

Free Plowing

Back in the '40s, a Jewish guy was arrested for smuggling guns into Israel, then known as Palestine. He was taken into one of the British prisons. While there, his wife writes him a letter decrying what a shlemazel he is. "Spring is coming and with you rotting in jail who will provide? Who will till the land? Who will plow the soil?"
The man comes up with an idea. He sends an urgent letter to his wife saying: "Please, my dear, whatever you do, don't touch the field this year. All my M1 rifles are hidden in the field!"
 Sure enough, the letter is intercepted and the British take this very seriously. The next morning at 6 a.m. there are 200 armed guards at the man's fields waiting for dawn to break. As the sun rises, they attack the field with shovels and rakes, leaving no rock unturned.
 When news gets back to the inmate, he writes a letter to his wife: "My dear, now that they have plowed the field, it is time to plant seeds!"

Enthralled by Wells

It seems that our Patriarchs, the Founding Fathers of Judaism, were enthralled with wellsprings.
First, the Bible tells us of Abraham's involvement in well digging and his rebuke of the king of the Philistines for allowing his servants to seize one of the wells[1]. Abraham went so far as to perform an elaborate ceremony with the king, during which the king swore that the well would remain in Abraham's possession[2].
But Abraham's association with wells pales in comparison to his son Isaac's connection to wells. First, we learn that he is a frequent visitor at a well named “Lachei Roei,” where he meets his bride and later settles.[3] Isaac’s then engages in relentless digging to uncover underground springs. He reclaims the wells that his father dug but that were stopped up after Abraham's death. In addition, we read of at least another four wells that Isaac's servants dig anew. We are even told the names Isaac granted his wells and of the battles he fought to hold on to them![4]
Jacob, too, seems to harbor special sentiments toward wells. When the Torah describes in next week's portion his journey from Israel to the East, it tells us [5] that "Jacob looked and behold, a well in the field!" Jacob spends a lot of time at the well, and it is there that he encounters and decides to marry his wife-to-be, Rachel[6].
Why were the fathers of the Jewish people so connected to wells? And why does the Torah, a book of instruction and teachings, a roadmap for life, dedicate a significant part of this week's portion Toldos to discuss the details of Isaac's struggles to discover wellsprings?

Two Water Sources

In Jewish thought, water represents wisdom and inspiration.[7] Just as water quenches the thirst of an arid body, rejuvenating its spirit and resuscitating its energy, the gifts of wisdom and enlightenment refresh a soul and grant it inspiration and vitality.
We have two sources of water in our world. The waters above the ground—oceans, rivers, lakes, streams and rain, and water that flows below the ground, covered by grit. These latter waters seep out from sand and gravel, from amid soluble rocks and cleavage planes, as they struggle to emerge from beneath the earth that conceals them.
One would assume that the restricted flow of water fighting to emerge from amid gravel would be inferior to the unrestricted and smooth beds of water that lay above the ground. Yet the reality is that there is something uniquely refreshing about spring water. The very fact that these waters are hidden beneath the ground keeps them free from pollution and germs, and grants them a freshness and sparkle not to be found in the above-ground waters.

Two Sources of Inspiration

The two sources of physical waters in our world parallel the two sources of wisdom and spiritual inspiration in our lives.
The first of these spiritual sources, which parallels above-ground water, is a sense of wisdom and inspiration that is born above and beyond the dirt of life's daily challenges. It comes to lucid people at lucid moments; it is straightforward, easy and smooth. These are the waters that emerge from the hearts of pristine spiritual individuals; men and women unsoiled by the filth and muck innate to many a human character. Their waters are delightful and unrestricted.
But then there is the wisdom that emerges from life's "dirt" and grime, from amid much struggle and inner strife; there is the inspiration born from those human hearts that are submerged in the psychological and emotional gravel of life. When a person, burdened by the daily pressures of earning a livelihood and raising a family, and bogged down by his earthly nature and his immoral urges bursts out with a yearning to transcend himself and connect to G-d - this small, restricted flow of water seeping out from a sandy and rocky psyche is more refreshing and potent than all of the serene waters located above the “ground.”
This is why the fathers of the Jewish people were engrossed in digging and preserving wells. With this they taught us to fight for and to cherish those moments of truth, fleeting as they are, and those small sparks of idealism, transient as they seem, buried within the deep rubble of falsehood and grit.
For this is the essence of Judaism: You must not live in heaven; you must discover heaven within earth, beginning with your own earth.[8]

____________
[1]Genesis 21:25.  [2]Ibid. 21:30. This ceremony and the oath taken by the two parties at the location, is the origin of the name of the City Beer Sheba, where this ceremony was performed. Beer Sheba means "the oath of the well."  [3] Genesis 24:62. Cf. ibid. 25:11  [4] Ibid. chapter 26.  [5] Ibid. 29:2.  [6]4) Also Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, stopped at a well, where he found a bride for Isaac. Moses too discovers his wife-to-be, Tzeporah, at a well.  [7]See, for example, Bava Kama 17a. Tanya chapter 4.  [8]This essay is based on a discourse by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), the founder of Chabad, in his book Torah Or p. 20.
 

 

 

 

 

Posted on November 20, 2009
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