the field in the well

וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה בְאֵר בַּשָּׂדֶה - and he saw there was a well in the field. The Noam Elimelech explains that the point of Torah learning is to get to the pnimiyut-the inner essence. The Torah is called a well, and it's inner essence, a field. (The inner essence, he says, is called חקל תפוחים - literally the apple orchard) As the Noam Elimelech explains , it says behold there is a well [whose purpose is] to [get people to] the field.

This is markedly different than the obvious geographic layout and literal meaning, there was a field with a well in the middle. It's a great example of how Hassidut really can take the literal text to new literal heights. He doesn't break the Hebrew technically, he just gives you new insight. The well comes first in the passage, just as it comes first in the spiritual journey. Whereas, in the geographical layout, one would always come upon a field before a well that was 'in the field.'

Why are these metaphors used? Let's think about it a little.

You normally go to a well. You remove water from the well, and you take it somewhere. You can gather around a well, but you generally don't enter a well. A well is a point on the way to a destination.

A field surrounds you. You enter and exit a field. A field(/orchard) provides shade and sustenance. A field is a destination.

Yes, everyone needs to go to the well and bring back water so that life can continue, but it's more an impediment than something you want to do. That is why the well is the body of the Torah, the necesary parts of the Torah.

The field is about comfort, luxury even. True, a field can also be a place where people go to bring food back to one's life, but it's also a welcoming environ. Build a little house, perhaps dig a well, and you've arrived.

Ultimately what HaShem wants from us, is to make the Torah our home. To dwell within it, to wander its lengths and depths and feel a sense of ownership. God wants us to settle down with the Torah, see the world through its leaves and branches. Enjoy the fruit of it's expanses.

[This is actually a good example as well of how the deepest secrets of the Torah exist in pop-culture. Think about the fantasies that arose in the world of fiction about what is waiting at the bottom of well. Tales of those who fell or climbed into a well.]


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