Friday, April 30, 2010

Parshat Emor – פרשת אמור

"כי כל איש אשר בו מום, לֹא יקרב: איש עור או פסח, או חרם או שרוע - For any man in whom there is a blemish shall not approach; a man who is blind, lame, one whose nose has no bridge, or one who has one limb longer than the other."
(ויקרא כא:יח)

Concerning the blemishes that animals might have, the Torah uses the word עורת, which Rashi renders as "a noun which is the name of a blemish: blindness." In essence, Rashi is translating the word as "blind." This seems a perfectly normal way of referring to an animal that cannot see - we call it blind. So what is the point of phrasing things in a different way in our pasuk?

The answer is given that an animal has only one faculty of vision - that of normal sight. When an animal cannot see, it truly is blind. Humans, though, are very different. As humans, we use our senses to guide us and allow us to perceive more than just what is in front of us.

We can say that man has two kinds of vision; a basic and physical vision and a spiritual vision. The essence of this inner vision is something which cannot be taken away, and it is something that can discern things that normal vision cannot.

Chazal, the Jewish sages, ask a question, "Who is wise?" Their answer is, "He who foresees the [events from their] infancy." The essence of foresight, and of wisdom in turn, is a deep and true understanding of an issue. Anyone with real vision understands that this world is just a trap, and that it is important not to get too involved with all that goes on - all that is required of a Jew is that he learns Torah and acts in accordance with Torah. The Chafetz Chaim famously had only a very few posessions, but when people mentioned this to him, he would explain that this world is nothing but a corridor leading to the world to come. The Chafetz Chaim understood the lack of real value in worldy possesions, demonstrating his clear perception of the value of this life.

With this in mind, we can understand why our pasuk above is phrased the way it is. Whereas most of us judge things by how good they look and place a tremendous amount of importance on "looking good," a true man will understand the superficiality of this kind of vision. True, a man who has lost the faculty of vision is blemished and as such is unfit to serve in the Bet Hamikdash, but the Torah does not refer to him as "blind," but as a "man who is blind", for he does not cease to be a man. A man who has lost his sight may feel very aware of his disabilty, but he does not allow this to overcome him, for he may still perceive things within his mind's eye - and this perceptiveness may even prove more useful than the vision offered by our eyes.

Adapted from the teachings of Rav Zalman Sorotzkin.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!

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