November 15, 2018 / 7 Kislev, 5779 • Parshat Vayeitzei
Issue 535
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

The shepherds would together roll the boulder off the opening of the well.

Bereishit 29:3

Jacob arrived at the well where the local shepherds gathered each day to water their flocks. Because the boulder covering the well was so heavy, the shepherds had to remove it together. But when Jacob's cousin Rachel arrived, shepherding her father Laban's flocks, Jacob removed the boulder by himself.

The well represents our inner wellsprings of holiness, the boulder represents the materialism that often blocks these wellsprings, and the "shepherds" are our love and out fear of G-d.

But just as one shepherd alone cannot remove the boulder, we cannot unblock our wellspring with only love or only fear of G-d. This is because both love and fear of G-d can easily slip into unhealthy forms if we are not careful. An example of unhealthy love is the love of material indulgence; an example of unhealthy fear (severity) is acting harshly toward others.

If, however, we both love and fear G-d, our fear of G-d can prevent us from falling into negative forms of love, and our love of G-d can protect us from falling into negative forms of fear.

This is why "shepherds" were able to remove the "boulder" from the "well" only when working together. Jacob, however, was able to remove the boulder by himself, because he embodied both love and fear of G-d.

--From Kehot's

Daily Wisdom #2