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Published on : Mar 14, 2014
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Slide 1 - Toldot : Of Blindness and Blessings CALEV BEN DOR “and his eyes were dim from seeing. R Eleazar Ben Azariah taught: From seeing the evil deeds of wicked Esau. For the Holy One Blessed be He said: Shall Isaac go out into the marketplace and hear people say; This is that scoundrels father?” I shall therefore dim Isaac’s eyes so that he will stay home. Another opinion: from that seeing – from the effect of what he saw at his binding. When out father Abraham bound his son upon the altar, the ministering angels wept and tears dropped from their eyes into Isaac’s eyes, leaving their mark upon them. Another option: from that seeing at the time of the binding. Because when Avraham bound his son Isaac on the altar, he raised his eyes into the heavens and saw the Shechinah… Why did his eyes grow dim? To allow Yaacov to take the Brachot (Rashi + Bereshit Rabbah 65.10) ותכהין עיניו מראות, א"ר אלעזר בן עזריה מראות ברע, מראות ברעתו של רשע, אמר הקב"ה יהיה יצחק יוצא לשוק יהיו הבריות אומרות: זהו אביו של הרשע, עשו) , ויהי כי זקן יצחק ותכהין עיניו. דבר אחר: מראות מכח אותה ראיה שבשעה שעקד אברהם אבינו את בנו על גבי המזבח בכו מלאכי השרת ונשרו דמעות מעיניהם לתוך עיניו והיו רשומות בתוך עיניו וכיון שהזקין כהו עיניו . דבר אחר: מראות מכח אותה הראיה שבשעה שעקד אברהם אבינו את יצחק בנו על גבי המזבח תלה עיניו במרום והביט בשכינה, מושלים אותו למה כהו עיניו של יצחק כדי שיבא יעקב ויטול את הברכות, (רשי + בראשית רבה סה) לד וַיְהִי עֵשָׂו, בֶּן-אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה, וַיִּקַּח אִשָּׁה אֶת-יְהוּדִית, בַּת-בְּאֵרִי הַחִתִּי--וְאֶת-בָּשְׂמַת, בַּת-אֵילֹן הַחִתִּי. לה וַתִּהְיֶיןָ, מֹרַת רוּחַ, לְיִצְחָק, וּלְרִבְקָה. {ס} כז: א וַיְהִי כִּי-זָקֵן יִצְחָק, וַתִּכְהֶיןָ עֵינָיו מֵרְאֹת; וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-עֵשָׂו בְּנוֹ הַגָּדֹל, וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו בְּנִי, וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, הִנֵּנִי.  ב וַיֹּאמֶר, הִנֵּה-נָא זָקַנְתִּי; לֹא יָדַעְתִּי, יוֹם מוֹתִי.  ג וְעַתָּה שָׂא-נָא כֵלֶיךָ, תֶּלְיְךָ וְקַשְׁתֶּךָ; וְצֵא, הַשָּׂדֶה, וְצוּדָה לִּי, צידה (צָיִד).  ד וַעֲשֵׂה-לִי מַטְעַמִּים כַּאֲשֶׁר אָהַבְתִּי, וְהָבִיאָה לִּי--וְאֹכֵלָה:  בַּעֲבוּר תְּבָרֶכְךָ נַפְשִׁי, בְּטֶרֶם אָמוּת.  26:34 And when Esau was 40, he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basmat the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 And they were a bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebekah. 27:1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his elder son, and said unto him: 'My son'; and he said unto him: 'Here am I.' 2 And he said: 'Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death. 3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, your weapons, your quiver and bow, and go out to the field, and bring me venison; 4 and make me savoury food, like I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless you before I die.' 25: 11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son; and Isaac dwelt with Beer-lechai-roi. 12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bore to Abraham. 13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the first-born of Ishmael, Nebiyot; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam…19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begot Isaac. כה: יא וַיְהִי, אַחֲרֵי מוֹת אַבְרָהָם, וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ; וַיֵּשֶׁב יִצְחָק, עִם-בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי. יב וְאֵלֶּה תֹּלְדֹת יִשְׁמָעֵאל, בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם:  אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית, שִׁפְחַת שָׂרָה--לְאַבְרָהָם.  יג וְאֵלֶּה, שְׁמוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׁמָעֵאל, בִּשְׁמֹתָם, לְתוֹלְדֹתָם:  בְּכֹר יִשְׁמָעֵאל נְבָיֹת, וְקֵדָר וְאַדְבְּאֵל וּמִבְשָׂם…. יט וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק, בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם:  אַבְרָהָם, הוֹלִיד אֶת-יִצְחָק.
Slide 2 - The Blindness of Father and Son Blindness is a blurred sense of seeing. In contemporary times, ‘blindness’ describes those things a person doesn’t see because they are difficult for him to bring to the surface of his consciousness. In an allegorical sense, one could say that blindness is a state of mind accessible to everyone – some type of blurring of senses that serves as a defence mechanism or a way of resolving difficult emotional situations. Yitzchak’s blindness always seemed to be a metaphorical blindness of spirit, one which the onset of old age turns into physical blindness. This is because in a certain way, Yitzchak feels Yaacov's deception and his blindness is more than anything an expression of the recognizable phenomenon of a father torn between his two children and unable to choose between them. He chose Esav and gives Yaacov, and ultimately also blesses Esav, and his blurred vision is an embellishment for the dimming of the soul, one that allows him to swap the accepted ‘Either / Or’ in the status of inheritance with the 'Gam VeGam,' both this one and that one, an approach that is a practical and emotional solution of many fathers. In this context, it's important to remember that Yitzchak reaches this disturbing status after the weight of his experience at the Akeidah – the great ‘blind experience’ of his father Avraham. Yitzchak already paid the full price of having a father who decided to take the ‘either / or’ approach, who cruelly preferred the love of God over the life of his beloved son. In fact, the greatest blindness was that of Avraham. His blindness was so great, that even though the story completely hides it, it slowly shoots out towards us from within the pages. Avraham’s blindness is characteristic of the great innovators whose own story is always intertwined with some kind of big demanding personal sacrifice. My grandparents were pioneers and were part of a huge revolution. They left their home, parents, family and country – forever; pushed away all their sub conscious yearnings and tears and completely gave themselves over to the Zionist project. Their blindness was recognizable in many ways (and today seems to be something necessary and desirable that should be greatly admired). They closed their eyes to the needs of their children, their parents, the world of their childhood, their language, their cultural roots and their private needs. Yitzchak, in contrast, reminds me of my generation, the 3rd generation of pioneers. A generation constantly attentive and sensitive to the array of voices, one not prepared or qualified to build one thing greater than the foundation. A human, paternal, sensitive decision whose blindness is a tool that serves that basic resolve of ‘gam, vegam, vegam vegam‘ I love and cherish Avraham and Yitzchak and their different blindness's and legacies. I belong to the generation of Yitzchak, and it's thus possible to deduce what can be expected from my generation and in particular what can not be expected. Will there ever be a generation that succeeds in merging the two, one that will be both revolutionary innovators yet also attentive to the array of voices. I think such a combination is still very very necessary. (Shai Zarchi)