Shemot: Chapter 26

The well of Moses and Jacob


In this section, Rabbi Elazar discourses on the well of Jacob and Moses. The waters of this well arose towards Jacob and he found his spouse, Rachel, there. Similarly, when Moses came across the well, the waters rose towards Moses and he joined there with his spouse, Tziporah. The discussion then turns to Jethro, a heathen priest who renounced paganism and ceased to worship idols. Because of this renunciation, Jethro's people excommunicated him and they drove his daughters away so they could not water his flock. Through the Holy Spirit, Moses knew that their mistreatment was caused by their rejection of idolatry, and so Moses helped Jethro's daughters. With the aid of a metaphorical example, Rabbi Chiya then explains that their rescue was actually due to the Egyptian whom Moses killed.


Kabbalistically, water represents purification and Light. Both Moses and Jacob met their soul mates by a well, alluding to the spiritual principle that states that a man merits and unites with his soul mate only when he has purified himself through spiritual transformation.

Meditating upon this passage literally transports our soul to the well of Moses and Jacob so that we may meet our true soul mate, or deeply enrich existing marital relationships. We draw water from the well to cleanse our soul, wash away our iniquities, and thus cause the ultimate soul mate unification - the marriage of our physical world with the supernal world of Light.

Towards the end of this passage, we are told that, after Moses had killed the Egyptian man, he fled and came upon the well, where he met his wife, Tziporah. In turn, Moses was also able to help the daughters of Jethro water their flock. For this reason, the daughters say, "An Egyptian man delivered us." The Egyptian is given credit because it was he who caused Moses to come to Midian, the place of the well.

One basic idea emerges from this story. We find out that our dark side, the Egyptian man, allows us to come closer to the Light of the Creator. Namely, our negative qualities let us fulfill our deepest need and most profound desire - to become the cause and creators of our own fulfillment, because in the moment that we identify and banish our egocentric features, we arouse Light. Thus, we have become responsible for, and the cause of, our own joy.

Jethro represents the transformation from Idol-worshipper to one who truly knows the one Light of the Creator. This is us. To one degree or another, each person has idol-worship in his nature, be it the worship of money, the veneration of prestige and power, the adulation of cultural icons, or the adoration of acceptance by other people. But again, these negative traits allow us to attain affinity with the Creator as soon as we eradicate them and transform ourselves.

Here the Zohar purges idol-worshipping from our nature. Another discharge of Light is released to extricate extreme meanness from our hearts.