27/929 Was Blind, So Now, I See!

This is a (hopefully) daily series of short reflections in English on the daily chapter of Tanach in the (wonderful, wonderful) 929 Project. The initiative, and the ideas and opinions expressed here, are my own. If you haven’t heard of 929, you can learn more at 929.org.il

Sometimes it is our vision that blinds us, and the only way to really see is to lose sight. According to all external parameters, Esav, a “made man”, the man of the field, who provides for Yitzchak, is the easy favorite as Yitzchak’s successor. But destiny is not determined by external parameters. While we see what is on the surface, Godly vision sees ‘to the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7). Rivka is privy to the Divine promise that inner will dominate outer, that the man of the tent will rule over the man of the field. It’s a promise that Yitzchak either never hears, or is unable to accept. His inner vision has been dulled, perhaps by the trauma of the akeidah, as the rabbis suggest, and he fools himself into thinking that reality is determined by what is on the surface. Has he ever really seen his sons? When the disguised Yaakov walks in, Yitzchak asks him- who are you? And when he suspects that perhaps the wrong son has come before him, Yitzchak ignores what comes from the inside, his son’s voice, and seeks to recognize him by asking to touch him, to taste the food he has brought. But ultimately the surface is not enough for Yitzchak. He can’t bring himself to bless his son before he achieves a moment of transcendent, inner vision. Only Yitzchak’s sense of smell allows him to pierce through the veil, reminding him of what it means to be a man of the field, bringing him back to that field in which he communed with God, the field where he met Rivka all those years ago. Rivka, who helped him heal from his traumatic losses, Rivka, who brought him from the field back inside, into the tent. “Re’eh! Behold!” Yitzchak exclaims. Now, I see.


About the Author
Avidan Freedman is the rabbi of the Shalom Hartman Institute's Hevruta program, an educator Hartman Boys High School in Jerusalem, and an activist against Israeli weapons sales to human rights violators.