The Source of Tears by Eli Schloss


After Yitzchak’s incident with Be’eir Sheva, we learn of Yitzchak Avinu’s aging. The Pasuk states, “VaYehi Ki Zakein Yitzchak VaTich’hena Einav MeiRe’ot,” meaning that as Yitzchak ages, his eyesight starts to go (BeReishit 27:1). Rashi famously asks a question on this and seems troubled as to why Yitzchak's eyesight is taken away from him. Rashi cites Chazal who say that when Yitzchak was on the Mizbei’ach at the Akeidah about to be sacrificed, the Mal’achim cried that Yitzchak was about to die, and their holy tears fell into his eyes and damaged his eyesight.

However, this can also seem problematic, because why would Hashem cause Yitzchak to be blinded? Hashem does nothing for no reason!

Rav Efraim Fischel Conterman, [22] my great-great-grandfather from New Orleans, offered insight into this. Earlier in our Parashah, Yitzchak is said to have loved Eisav “Ki Tzayid BePhiv,” “because trapping was in his mouth” (25:28). The Midrash Rabbah says that Yitzchak loved Esav to the extent that Eisav asked Yitzchak about Ma’aser for straw and salt, and even though there is no Ma’aser for these items, Yitzchak still believed his interest was genuine. Yitzchak loved Eisav before realizing he was deceptive, unlike Rivkah, who recognized Eisav’s deceptiveness and therefore favored Yaakov over Eisav.

Coming back to the tears of the Mal’achim, my great-great-grandfather explained that the Mal’achim cried for two purposes. First, they were witnessing an Eved Hashem so willfully giving up his life LeSheim Shamayim. This caused for the Mal’achim to cry tears of joy upon seeing someone as holy as Yitzchak. On the other hand, they also saw in a vision that Yitzchak would love his evil son and so blindly fall into his traps. Therefore, the Mal’achim also cried tears of sorrow.

Ultimately, the Mal’achim’s tears led to an ultimate victory for the Mal’achim. Just as Yitzchak was blind to Eisav’s negative trickery, the Malachim’s tears enabled Yitzchak to be tricked into giving the Berachah of the Bechor, firstborn, to Yaakov, possibly wiping out all of the negative impact Eisav’s trickery had on Yitzchak.

We learn from this that even if things in the present don’t make sense to us, eventually, possibly years down the road, we’ll be able to piece together everything that ever happened to us and understand that anything we encounter is from Hashem and is done for our own good.

[22] Correction: In my past article, “Hashem’s Physical Manifestations”, my great-great-grandfather was referred to as Rav Conterman. He was not a Rav, but he was a reverend and a Shochet.  [Comment by Rabbi Jachter: Having read Rav Conterman’s Sefer in its entirety, I conclude that Rav Conterman was an exceptional Talmid Chacham who is overwhelmingly worthy of the title Rav].

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