Keeping the Dent by Rabbi Nosson Rich


One of the most discussed stories in this week's Parashah is Ya’akov's receipt of the Bechorah in place of Eisav. Many focus on how the Bechorah could be sold and whether or not Ya’akov actually lied to his father. A point which is rarely discussed is the condition which facilitated the entire mix-up, Yitzchak's weak eyesight. In order to prepare us for Ya'akov's receipt of the Berachot, the Torah tells us, “VaYehi Ki Zakein Yitzchak VaTich’hena Einav MeiRe’ot,” “And as Yitzchak aged, his eyesight began to wane”(BeReishit 27:1). Had Yitzchak been able to see,Ya'akov would never have been able to successfully deceive him into believing that he was Eisav. This condition is vital to the success of Ya’akov’s plan. It has always troubled me why Yitzchak didn’t simply Daven for the restoration of his eyesight when he realized it was diminishing? After all, he was one of the few Tzadikim in our history who were close enough to Hashem to speak to Him. Why didn't he simply ask for his eyesight to improve?

The same question bothered me regarding Moshe Rabbeinu as well. When Hashem invites him to be the leader of Klal Yisrael, Moshe responds that he cannot do so due to his speech impediment. Here he is speaking directly to Hashem, but instead of asking for his lisp to be healed, he uses it as a reason that he cannot fulfill Hashem's request. Why didn't Moshe just Daven for his lisp to be healed?

Perhaps both of these questions can be answered with the following story. A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street and driving a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for children darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick glanced off the car’s side door! He slammed on his brakes and backed the Jaguar to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid, and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, “What was that all about! Who are you! Just what do you think you are doing? That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost me a lot of money.”

The young boy was apologetic. “Please, mister… please, I’m sorry but I didn’t know what else to do,” he pleaded. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop!” With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a place just behind a parked car. “It’s my brother,” he said, “He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.” Sobbing openly, the boy asked the stunned executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.”

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat and moved to lift the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him that they were minor. “Thank you,” the grateful child told the stranger. Too shaken for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. Then he took a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented door. He left the dent on the door as a constant reminder of the mistake he had made and of how far off his priorities had strayed.

The Ohr Gadol explains that one of the Midrashic explanations given for Yitzchak's weak eyesight was that as he lay on the Mizbei’ach at the Akeidat Yitzchak, the Mal’achim were crying, and those tears dropped into his eyes causing an eventual loss of vision. Thus, Yitzchak retained his blindness in order to remember the awesome experience of Mesirat Nefesh of Akeidat Yitzchak. He wanted to have a physical reminder of the spiritual heights he had reached during that experience, and so he never asked Hashem to heal his eyes. Moshe also received his speech impediment when he experienced a miracle. The Midrash teaches us that when Par’oh wanted to see if baby Moshe had the ability to be the redeemer of the Jewish People, a test was arranged to see if the baby would choose gold over coals. According to the Midrash, a miracle occurred, and a Mal’ach pushed Moshe's hand away from the gold onto the hot coals in order to prevent Par’oh from recognizing his greatness. In order to remember this spiritual experience, Moshe wanted a physical reminder that would remain with him forever. Thus, he never asked Hashem to heal that lisp.

We all experience spiritual and religious highlights at some point in our lives. Sometimes it’s a Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur Davening. Maybe it’s an emotional Tish or Melaveh Malkah. Whatever it may be, the emotions can dissipate quickly if we don’t find a way to tangibly crystallize them. Let us take the message of Yitzchak and Moshe, and ensure that our emotional and spiritual heights remain with us forever.

Recognizing Hashem’s Hand by Zev Jarashow

A Brief History of Ma’arat HaMachpeilah by Aryeh Krischer