by Tzvi Schnee
November 15, 2019
17 Chesvan 5780
“Wherefore that place was called Beer-Sheba; because there they swore both of them. So they made a covenant at Beer-Sheba.”
– Genesis 21:31-32a, JPS 1917 Tanach
“Therefore he called that well the Well of the Seven Lambs.” – Targum Jonathan, sefaria.org
Abraham encountered a request from Abimelech, who recognized that G-d was with Abraham in all of his endeavors; therefore, he felt compelled, perhaps, threatened by Abraham’s success, to make a pact that Abraham would not have any false dealings with him (Genesis 21:23).
Yet, this may have been pretense, for his own servants had taken away by force a well of water that had belonged to Abraham. Immediately after making the agreement, Abraham reproved Abimelech, concerning the well; yet, Abimelech claimed that he had not known about the dispute until that day.
It appears that the very thing Abimelech implied about Abraham, as if Abraham, a righteous person would even be capable of a false business deal, Abimelech permitted right under his own nose. To ensure his rights to the well, Abraham offered seven lambs to H’Shem in Abimelech’s presence, so that all would know that the well belonged to Abraham.
In psychology, Abimelech’s words would indicate his own projection of a negative aspect of himself upon Abraham. Abimelech insinuated that Abraham was capable of deception in matters of business dealings, when his own servants tried to wrest Abraham’s well away from him; how could he claim not to have known? Rather, it was as if he refused to acknowledge his own role in permitting his servants to act in such a manner.
Today, we should seek to be honest with ourselves, as well as with others; Torah calls us towards righteousness. As is written, we also need to be sincere in regard to our inner selves, “L-RD, who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell upon Thy holy mountain? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:1-2, JPS 1917 Tanach).