Toledot: It is about seeing—and not seeing.

Our parasha reports how Isaac was tricked by Jacob, taking advantage of his father‘s blindness, into giving him the blessing of the firstborn.  But was Isaac really blind? Was he really not able to notice that it was Jacob and not Esau who stood before him?  History is sometimes made by averting our eyes.  Many people think that miracles are about God working magic.  But according to Genesis miracles are about lifting up the eyes.  They are about opening the eyes and seeing what is already there. So miracles are more about us seeing things rather than God’s magic.  Miracles are about noticing the extraordinary in the ordinary. 

So how do we understand Isaac’s not seeing?  If he is blinded by choice because it is too painful to verbalise what one son is doing to another or how his wife is conspiring against him or how he is favouring one son over another, then what might  the miracle be that he is unable to see? 

The miracle  is in the sequel.  It is in next week’s portion.  That miracle is the dream of a ladder going to heaven.  This miracles occurs because Jacob is now running from Esau.  Such is the history that is created by Isaac
choosing not to see.

We can’t see everything and some things are too painful to see clearly.  The truth must sometimes be concealed and that we must, as a matter of faith, veil our eyes. Our rabbis teach us that we learn from Isaac how to lead a life of faith.  We can look at the world and all its pain.  We can look at our own lives with all the difficulties and say, there is no God; there are no
miracles.  Or, you can see Nature in all its wonderful colours, and say, „I believe!“ Faith is a matter of averting our eyes from our daily pains and seeing instead the sometimes less frequent joys and blessings.  It is about seeing—and not seeing.

Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Adrian M Schell

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