Dealing with Your History - Chayei Sarah
After the whole long and detailed story of Eliezer looking for a bride for Yitzchak, he is finally on his way back with his mission accomplished - he found Rivka. The Torah describes the eventual meeting between the two, and it seems that we should pay attention to the details hiding there. When describing Yitzchak Avinu, the Torah mentions where he was coming from: וְיִצְחָק בָּא מִבּוֹא בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי וְהוּא יוֹשֵׁב בְּאֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב. Rashi explains where the well was, and what Yitzchak Avinu was doing there: ‘Where he had gone to bring Hagar to Abraham his father, that he should marry her’.
This explanation throws us back to the complex relationship between Avraham and Hagar, but with a twist. When exiling Hagar, Sarah’s main reason to do so was the education of Yitzchak, and here comes Yitzchak himself, bringing Hagar back. What is Yitzchak is doing? And why on earth would he make such a strange move?
To answer that, we should keep in mind another story involving Yitzchak.
After getting married and settling down, Yitzchak Avinu finds himself in a big fight over his wells. The wells in question were the wells he inherited from his father, and he put a big effort into fixing them. Connecting between two stories involving wells, might bring us some insight into our question.
Yitzchak Avinu wasn’t revolutionary like his father. Yitzchak is the second. His role is not to create a new path, but to keep on track, and by that Yitzchak teaches us how to follow in the footsteps of those who came before us. By fixing his father’s wells he is connecting himself specifically to the ways of his father, both spiritually and materially. Finding his path in a world he inherited using the sources and the values he received from his own specific history.
When relying on your past one may find many stories and issues that should be fixed in the second edition. Hidden skeletons that hide in the family, that were not dealt with, and suddenly rise up and demand redemption.
By bringing Hagar back, Yitzchak teaches us that things can be fixed and changed. From being denied and expelled, Hagar comes back to Avraham’s tent and finds a new way to contribute to his universal mission.
It seems that we can consider Yitzchak the as founder of the concept of Teshuva. Showing us the way not only to start good and new paths, but how to follow and recheck existing aspects in life and push them to better and higher levels. The wells symbolize that in order to achieve high and new goals we must dig deep. Digging in the desert is basically an act with no assurance of success, but with strong faith, it can be possible.
So let us all learn from Yitzchak, to believe in our ability to find deeper meanings in existing situations, understanding that underneath we might find fresh new water.