Isaac dug his father's wells anew.
This doesn't mean he just treaded old ground.
Avraham had plumbed the earth's deep wisdom.
Where his pick struck soil, compassion poured.
Isaac opened up his father's pipes
so kindness, long-delayed, could flow again.
In all who drank, a memory arose:
water, shared in the desert, saves a life.
When Isaac's servants, digging in the wadi
found a spring, the herdsmen quarreled: "This is ours."
Frustrated, they named that place Contention.
He dug another, they fought again: Dispute.
How different are things now? Today, who drills
-- and who drinks only the infrequent rains?
What new name might we choose if we could build
a world where everyone gets enough water?
Source of all, flow through us like the rains.
Turn the spigot of abundant blessing.
Teach us we won't die, parched and alone,
but live renewed like hillsides kissed with dew.
When we can share the stuff of which we're made,
what makes our earth the firmament's swirled blue,
then we will find the ample space we need
to share this earth as kin with all who thirst.
(And let us say: Amen.)
"Isaac dug his father's wells anew." Genesis 26:17.
"But when Isaac's servants, digging in the wadi, found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, 'The water is ours. He named that well Esek, because they contended with him." Genesis 26:19-20
"And when they dug another well, they disputed over that one also; so he named it Sitnah." Genesis 26:21
"In today's world, ask: / who may drill, who only gets the infrequent rains?" See The Gap in Water Consumption between Palestinians and Israelis, B'tselem 2013.
"He moved from there and dug yet another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he called it Rehoboth, saying, "Now at last the Lord has granted us ample space to increase in the land." Genesis 26:22
This poem arises out of this week's Torah portion. It was written in 2013 for a now-defunct blog called Palestinian Talmud, after one of the names given to the Talmud Yerushalmi. A reader alerted me to the fact that my link to this poem was a dead link, so I'm reposting it now.