Bereishis 29:1-10 -- Now Jacob lifted his feet and went to the land of the people of the East. And he looked, and behold! a well in the field, and behold! three flocks of sheep lying beside it, because from that well they would water the flocks, and a huge rock was upon the mouth of the well. ... And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother and the sheep of Laban, his mother's brother, that Jacob drew near and rolled the rock off the mouth of the well, and he watered the sheep of Laban, his mother's brother.

Many commentators have remarked on the fact that our forefathers tend to meet their future spouses at wells. Eliezer comes to Charan representing his master Avraham in order to find a match for Yitzchak, and indeed he meets Yitzchak's future wife, Rivkah. Yaakov, in our parashah, meets Rochel at a well. And Moshe Rabbeinu meets his future wife Tziporah at a well, too. Much has been said about the significance of this fact, but I would like to point out an interesting contrast that I noticed. When Eliezer comes to find a wife for Yitzchak, he comes bearing great wealth, and representing a wealthy family. Rivkah, a little girl, expends superhuman effort to provide water for this rich man and his entourage. Contrast that with the episode in our parashah, and with the episode involving Moshe. In both of these cases, Yaakov and Moshe both arrive at these wells as poor fugitives. We know that Yaakov was on the run from Esav who wanted to kill him, and Rashi tells us that, although Yaakov left home with money, he surrendered it all to Esav's son Eliphaz, who had come to kill him on his father Esav's orders.

Yaakov convinced Eliphaz to take his money instead of killing him, arguing that a poor man is considered like a dead man. As a result, he arrived in Charan penniless, a situation that caused no small amount of difficulty as he sought to get married. Moshe, too, was on the run from Pharaoh, who wanted to kill him because he had killed an Egyptian taskmaster, and he, too, did not arrive with wealth at the well in Midian where he met Yisro's daughters.

In both of these cases, interestingly, it was these poor fugitives who ended up providing water for the people waiting there. Yaakov singlehandedly rolled the huge stone off the top of the well and thus enabled the shepherds and Rochel to give their sheep water. And Moshe drove away the shepherds who were harassing Yisro's daughters and thereby enabled Yisro's daughters to water their sheep, as well. Note the contrast: Rich man arrives at well and only receives water at the hands of another. Poor men arrive at well and are the vehicle for providing water to others. Water, we know, represents many significant things in the terminology of the Torah and Chazal. One thing is represents is parnassah, livelihood. Perhaps, then, this is a support for the saying of Chazal that "יותר ממה שבעל הבית עושה עם העני, העני עושה עם בעל הבית" "The poor person does more for the baalhabayis (the householder) than the baalhabayis does for the poor person." Chazal tell us that giving tzedakah is what brings material blessing to us. When Hashem sees that we recognize that we are only holding our money in trust, and that we know how to properly use our money by sharing it with others in need, he starts to trust us with more of it. In these episodes with Yaakov Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu, it is these poverty-stricken fugitives who cause the water to flow. In contrast, Eliezer, who comes with great wealth, receives water from the hands of a poor little girl.

In both cases, contrary to what one would expect, the flow of water, of parnassah, is from the weaker to the stronger, from the poorer to the wealthier. In the spiritual realm, this is actually what occurs when a "rich man" extends his hand to help a "poor man." Physically, it seems as if the blessing is flowing in that direction. But spiritually, the flow is precisely the opposite.

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