From our earliest generations, the inability to see or “see” has been part of the story. Adam was blind to, and has no reaction to, the enmity between his sons. Same thing with Abraham and his sons. Isaac, famously, can’t tell the difference between his sons and gives the primary blessing to Jacob over Esav. But now we reach Jacob. On his deathbed, wanting to bless Joseph’s children and promote them in status, he is physically too blind to recognize them in person, but spiritually and prophetically astute enough to reverse his hands so that Efraim receives the greater blessing over his brother Menashe. This, of course, echoes the reversals of merit over birth order which we have seen multiple times in B’reshit. But the last of the original patriarchs continues with his farewell poem to his children, where he breaks the mold of blind-as-metaphor-for-ignorant. Due to his failing sight, Jacob may not have recognized his grandchildren, but he can certainly see through their uncles in terms of character. The Rabbis elevate Jacob’s insights to the level of prophecy; connecting them to future events which occurred later within the tribes bearing their names. Such is the power of a blind person with G-d given vision.
In Greek mythology, and echoed in literature through the generations, the character of Tiresias is viewed as the ironic epitome of the blind man with the greatest powers of prophecy and insight. While beset by human limitations, he (well, they, since the myth also has them living as a woman) is able to learn , grow, and become influential. Let’s learn from their example. If we can be aware of what we cannot see, we can learn volumes about what we must accomplish. By shining a light into the dark corners of our lives, we can illuminate untold generations to come. The famous hymn says that “I once was blind.” I’m convinced that that fate is one of choice. However we are able, we should want to have clear vision. What we may lack in sight can and should be overcome by insight. Then we will truly see.
Shabbat ShalomRabbi/Hazzan David B. Sislen