My teacher, Rabbi Leonard Kravitz, often quoted one of his teachers, “Can men [sic] drink deeply if an empty cup is passed around?” In this fraught moment in human—and Jewish—history, many rabbis are feeling like their cups are empty.
The call for our resources has perhaps never been more urgent. Our communities need our gifts, talents, and tools. They need our teaching to gain access to Torah’s timeless wisdom; they need our acumen to craft rituals that will make meaning out of life’s transitions; they need our leadership in pursuing justice and in defending our people from antisemitism, they need our loving presence by their sides as they encounter loss, grief, hatred, and fear.
Fortunately, we have much to give. But we are finite beings facing infinite needs. Our job responsibilities are too frequently impossible to accomplish. Our institutions too often lack adequate resources to accomplish their missions. Our lay leaders are confused and frustrated (and not infrequently, they take it out on nearest target—their rabbi). We have our own personal lives—responsibilities to partners, kids, parents, siblings, and friends that don’t respect “blackout periods” of peak work—our spouse gets COVID at Rosh HaShanah, our child has a meltdown and needs mental health care; our parent breaks a hip, our friend loses her job.
It is so easy for our cups, our hearts, our spirits, to be depleted, exhausted. How are they (we) to be refilled?
Is this the most helpful paradigm for us; waiting for someone or something to refill our cups? Perhaps, instead, we might imagine ourselves in the position to draw from a well, to seek, and find, sustenance when we most need it. Perhaps ezreinu, our Help, is to be found whenever and wherever we need it, like Miriam’s well, which showed up for our people while we were wandering in the midbar. Miriam’s well, according to the Midrash would show up every time the Israelites settled in a new place in the wilderness. This beehive-shaped well would appear seemingly out of nowhere; its water was available for all who came to draw it. From the well, our ancestors drew more than sustenance; they drew healing as well. According to one account, the well would appear every Motzei Shabbat; those who drew from it were healed of all their afflictions.
In the paradigm of the well, sustenance is there for us when we need it. Hagar found the well that was there all along, in her unspeakably desperate moment, when she was convinced that she and Ishmael were about to die. With God’s help, Hagar looked up and spotted the well. She filled her vessel, and she revived Ishmael. Hopefully, Hagar followed the convention of airplane oxygen masks and first slaked her own thirst!
We rabbis, who are the nurturers and sustainers of those we accompany, may be too tired, or too proud, or too discouraged to remember to look up to see the well. And we certainly cannot do it alone. We need to support and remind and encourage one another, to be truly chaveirim.
And, if we look up, help and healing are here. We can find support to open our eyes to sources of sustenance through colleagues whose job is to accompany us, such as counselors and coaches available through the CCAR. Maybe we can find the well through taking a brief break after Havdalah (whether that break comes on Saturday night or Wednesday). And perhaps we can find the well through our spiritual practice, with the help of guidance like that of the daily practice offered by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.
May we all be able to lift our eyes and see the wellsprings of help, hope, and healing that are here for us. May we draw waters in joy from the Living Well. 
 Rav said Miriam’s well was “a portable, pure spring.” BT Shabbat 35a
 Bamidbar Rabbah 18:22 tells of a blind person in the town of Shichin who came upon the well of Miriam and recovered his sight.
 Shulchan Aruch Orach Hayim 299:10
 Genesis 21:19
 Aryeh Hirschfield’s translation of Isaiah 12:3
Rabbi Dayle Friedman (HUC-JIR NY ’85) is a CCAR Special Advisor for Member Support and Counseling. She has written widely about pastoral care, spirituality, and aging. Her most recent book is Jewish Wisdom for Growing Older: Finding Your Grit and Grace Beyond Midlife.