Isaac again dug the wells of water which they had dug in the days of his father, Abraham, and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham’s death. . . . Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and they found there a well of living waters. . . . He moved away from there, and he dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth, and he said, “For now the L‑rd has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”(Genesis 26:18–22)

This abstract expressionistic painting, spread over three panels, portrays the complexity of the digging of the wells of our forefathers. The wells that Abraham had discovered and dug were covered by the Philistines. The Talmud teaches that water is an allusion to the Torah itself. The digging of wells is a search to reveal and spread its wellsprings. By re-digging Abraham’s wells, Isaac uncovered what had been obscured, ensuring that the knowledge of G‑d’s Oneness would keep flowing into the world. The intensity of this quest for light is highlighted in the painting by opposing colors, by the contrast between the harmonious blues and the energetic reds. On the other side of the color scale, the lush shades of purple give a feeling of the spiritual nature of the wells.

Not only did Isaac reopen these original wells, but he also forged ahead excavating new ones. In the painting, the clear blue well that connects the right and middle panels is surrounded by brooding red and purple, suggesting the conflict Isaac encountered over the digging of the well. This is reflected in the names Issac gave the wells: Eisek, meaning “strife,” and Sitnah, “hatred.” The quarreling with the Philistines over ownership of the wells is hinted at by the large daunting figures that rise up on either side of the well.

In contrast to this well, which is contained on all sides, is the last well which Isaac dug, a well over which there was no conflict. Isaac calls this well Rechovot—“expansiveness.” This is suggested by the expansiveness of the water that gushes from a dark cave-like cistern, flowing from the left panel into the center of the painting. Rechovot is a place of ever-expanding space, where water can spread and flow freely, unrestricted.

The wells are also a metaphor for the depths that are inside each one of us. For an artist, digging for wells is about the search to find more pure inner expression.