Classical painting of Abraham holding a knife to Isaac's throat while an angel reaches for his hand.
Sacrifice of Isaac by Caravaggio, c. 1603. (Wikimedia Commons)

With Open Eyes

The Torah comes along to help us see more clearly, to open our eyes.

The Mei Hashiloah (Rabbi Mordecai Joseph Leiner, d. 1854) points to a fascinating difference between Moses and Isaac: Moses died “with his eyes undimmed” (Deuteronomy 34:7) while for Isaac, “his eyes were dim” (Genesis 27:1).

The Mei Hashiloah explains that in Isaac’s life, the major events, the Akedah and the reversal of the blessing with Jacob and Esau, God’s hand is not obvious. Isaac is not told and does not know why or how God is involved. On the other hand, Moses is constantly informed of the divine plan — he is always awake, his eyes never dimmed.

In our lives sometimes we feel God’s presence and at other times only in retrospect do we see a pattern. The world moves in our vision between clarity and opacity, and we are part Isaac and part Moses. The Torah comes along to help us see more clearly, to open our eyes.

Rabbi David Wolpe’s musings are shared in My Jewish Learning’s Shabbat newsletter, Recharge, a weekly collection of readings to refresh your soul. Sign up to receive the newsletter.

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