The Gemara (Bava Metzia 87a) tells us of a very unusual thing in regard to our ancestor Avraham and his son Yitzchak. In order to stop the slanderous murmuring that Avraham was not really Yitzchak’s father, Hashem transformed Yitzchak’s features to resemble those of Avraham. Moreover, the Gemara (ibid.) says, “they were so identical that whoever wanted to speak with Avraham might by mistake talk with Yitzchak and whoever wanted to speak with Yitzchak might unwittingly talk with Avraham.”

The difference in age between the two was exactly one hundred years. Now, it is known that billions of dollars are spent annually to make people look younger. However, that is only to hide some wrinkles and obscure a person’s real age. But for a mother to look exactly like her eighteen year old daughter is embarrassing. And for a young daughter to be mistaken for her mother is even more embarrassing. So what is the purpose in telling us of the constant embarrassment our ancestors Avraham and Yitzchak suffered daily throughout their entire life?

Perhaps this can be explained as an allegory:

In recent years we have been suffering from what sociologists and family therapists have termed a “generation gap.” Unfortunately, there has been a breakdown in communication between one generation and the next. The parents lack a language to communicate with their children and the children have written off their parents as old timers who don’t understand modern-day society. Fortunes are spent on psychologists to help both sides engage in dialogue and restore or create a bridge of communication between them.

In many instances when someone tries talking to a young boy or girl about their behavior or attitudes, he will hear the retort “You sound just like my old man (or old lady).” And parents, when confronted about their children, will reply “What can we do? The younger generation is different than ours.”

The Sages are telling us that between Avraham and Yitzchak there was no generation gap: they looked alike, spoke alike, and shared the same perception and outlook. When a person would talk to Avraham he would hear the same language as he did when he spoke to Yitzchak. When talking to Yitzchak and hearing his response and way of speaking, if one would close his eyes, one would think it was Avraham who was speaking.

Such a parent-child relationship is a blessing every parent should pray to merit, and it is the envy of those parents who, unfortunately, are not experiencing it. True Yiddish nachas is when the child is proud of his parent’s Yiddishkeit and when the parents see the children emulating them and living a lifestyle compatible to theirs.

My dear Chatan and Kallah, you are both scions of venerable families. In the homes of your parents and grandparents you witnessed high regard for Torah and mitzvot. There was no generation gap. The Torah observed in your parents’ home was the identical Torah your grandparents cherished and followed. May the home you are setting out to build be a living example and a replica of that approach to Torah and Yiddishkeit.

I am sure that such an endeavor will merit you the blessings Yitzchak gave to his beloved son Yaakov who followed in his footsteps, “And may G‑d give you of the dew of the heavens and of the fatness of the earth.” And as Rashi writes in his commentary, that veyitein” — “And may He give” — is written with a vav which refers to a continuous and repetitive action: May G‑d give you — bless you over and over again without ceasing.


The Patriarch Yitzchak lived the longest of our forefathers. Avraham lived for 175 years, Yaakov 147 years and Yitzchak lived to 180. Undoubtedly, it would take volumes to write his full biography, but the Torah briefly records only some highlights of his life. These include his miraculous birth to a mother of 90 and a father of 100, and the akeidah, where at the age of 37 he was ready to be brought as an offering to Hashem. We also learn about his marriage, his offspring and the blessings he bestowed upon Yaakov and all of his future generations. All such events would be significant in the life of any individual and in regard to Yitzchak they have been expounded at length to teach us countless invaluable lessons.

The Torah doesn’t suffice with relating just these details, but also tells us that Yitzchak’s occupation was a digger of wells. In the Torah portion of Toldot we are told that he dug three wells, and his encounters and successes with the wells. One may wonder, what is the importance of this? Is this such a prominent position and source of livelihood that we should perhaps strive that our children should become well-diggers?

In Chabad literature (see Torah Ohr) digging wells is a metaphor for Yitzchak’s avodah — way of serving Hashem. Basically, just as when digging a well one reveals and draws forth the living waters in the ground, similarly, Yitzchak’s avodah was to remove all kelipot — impurities — that cover and conceal G‑dliness, and to convert the world into a vessel for Divinity.

According to the Ramban and with more elaboration in the Kli Yakar commentary, the story of the three wells is an allegory which alludes to the three holy Temples — Beit Hamikdash.

The first well, Yitzchak names Eisek, “because the vied with him” (26:20). Rashi explains that they “ ‘vied with him’ — over it with quarelling and contention.” This well corresponds to the first Temple that was destroyed because of the quarrelling and contention that was prevalent in the Jewish Kingdom, particularly, the split of the Jewish Kingdom into two sections, Yehudah and Binyamin. The strife of the nations finally destroyed it. The second well — Sitnah — is an allusion to the sinat chinam — unwarranted hatred and enmity — that caused the destruction of the second Temple.

The third well — Rechovot — spaciousness — alludes to the future temple, the era when strife, hatred and enmity will be a thing of the past, and thus, the Beit Hamikdash will last forever.

It is neither the time now nor the place to elaborate on these beautiful interpretations. I would, however, like to share with you, my dear Chatan and Kallah, and also with all present here, a simple observation that came to my mind as I reflected on the way the Torah describes certain curcumstances in connection with the well digging.

Regarding the first well, over which there was contention, the Torah says of Yitzchak’s servants that “vayachperu” — “they dug” [in the valley]. When it came to the second well over which there was enmity, again the Torah precedes it all with telling us that “vayachperu” — “they dug” [another well]. Regarding the third well, over which there was no quarrelling, the Torah says “vayachpor” — “and he dug” [another well].

Note the distinction: the first two times it says “vayachperu” — “they dug” — in the plural, and then it says “vayachpor” — “and he dug” — in the singular.

It is hard to conceive that unlike the first two times, the wealthy Yitzchak would suddenly switch to digging a well all by himself. Obviously, there was some unique element that caused this venture to be successful.

The explanation perhaps is the following: When the first two wells were dug, the servants of Yitzchak were not unified. When such is the case, aliens see an opening to intrude. However, the success of the third digging was that “vayachpor” — the servants were totally united among themselves. In unity there is strength and no outsider would venture to disrupt their harmony and cause quarrels.

The message to you, Chatan and Kallah, is that the key to success and the assurance of living a life of rechovot — spaciousness – and meriting Hashem’s blessing of “being fruitful in the land” — is contingent on how the both of you will work in building your future. If it will be “vayachperu” — digging in plural, living together as two entities, or “vayachpor” — the two of you cemented together as one.

Hopefully the latter spirit will prevail in your home and together as one you will enjoy rechovot — material and spiritual expansiveness.

"וא-ל ש-ד-י יברך אתך ויפרך וירבך"
“And G‑d A-lmighty should bless you and make you fruitful and multiply.” (28:3)

QUESTION: Why did Yitzchak employ the Holy Name "ש-ד-י" when he blessed Yaakov to be fruitful and multiply?

ANSWER: G‑d implanted in man the potential to procreate. The first mitzvah of the Torah is “p’ru urevu”to be fruitful and multiply” (פרו ורבו). The words “p’ru urevu” have the numerical value of 500.

When the letters of the Name "ש-ד-י" are themselves spelled out, “shin”is spelled ",ש-י-ן" “daledis spelled ",ד-ל-ת"and “yud” is spelled ".י-ו-ד" The unrevealed part of the letters, i.e. the (60) "י-ן" of the shin,” the (430) "ל-ת" of the “daled,” and the (10) "ו-ד" of the “yud” total 500. Thus, the Holy Name of "ש-ד-י" has hidden in it the potential of p’ru urevu (500), which is the power to bring about G‑d’s great blessing of children.

For this reason, when Hashem blessed Yaakov to multiply, He prefaced it by saying, “Ani Keil Sha-dai — I am G‑d A-lmighty — be fruitful and multiply” [35:11].

(בעל הטורים)