A Tale of Three Wells
"Unity" was the message Prime Minister Sharon communicated the other week to thousands of delegates of the Likud Party which he heads. His call was primarily directed to those in his political party, which is divided in its support for him or his rival, former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. But it was also a call for the unity amongst all segments of Israelis, a unity so sorely needed in the current crisis.
The three wells dug by servants of the Patriarch Yitzchak described in this weeks Torah portion tell a tale of the price we pay for disunity. Our Torah commentaries view them as symbolic of the first two Holy Temples which were destroyed by enemies and the third one which will be built with the arrival of the Mashiach.
The names which Yitzchak gave these wells were based on his own experience in contending with the Philistines over them. But their life-giving water also symbolizes the spiritual life-giving function of the Holy Temple. He called them Eiseq, Sitnah and Rechovot.
Eiseq means strife, and hints to the 410-year era of the First Temple which was characterized by strife between the leaders of the people, as exemplified by the rivalry between the kingdoms of Yisrael and Yehuda. It was this internal strife which eventually led to strife with neighboring lands and the destruction and exile which followed.
Sitnah means hatred and refers to the 420-year era of the Second Temple which was marred by the tensions between ordinary people. When the Talmudic Sages state that the sin which brought about the destruction of that Temple was "unwarranted hatred" they are defining this hatred as not founded on the understandable power struggle of the earlier era but rather on an animosity which had no real cause other than simple intolerance of others.
Rechovot, the name of the third well, whose ownership was not challenged, refers to the Temple which will arise when Jews are finally blessed with redemption from their long exile and will be able to enjoy life in their land in perfect peace. The name connotes expansiveness and prophesies a time when all of Yitzchaks descendants will, like him, be able to declare that "G-d has made room for us and we will be fruitful in the land" (Bereishet 26:22). This is not merely a tale of a return to Eretz Yisrael and a dramatic increase in our numbers but a guarantee that despite our population explosion we will be capable of overcoming our internal dissension and living in peace with each other in the land that G-d has given us forever.