Blindness & Death


Moshe Ben-Chaim



Reader: In this week’s Parsha G-d identifies Himself to Jacob as “The L-rd, the G-d of Abraham your father, and the G-d of Isaac”. Rashi says that G-d does not “associate His Name with that of the righteous during their lifetimes”, but in this case He did so with Isaac because Isaac was blind, and being confined in the house, “he was like a dead person, the yetzer hara (evil inclination) having ceased from him (Tanchuma Toledoth 7).”
Why would a blind person be considered as dead, and what relationship exists between being able to see and having an active yetzer hara?



Mesora: A blind person lacks the use of the most central of human senses. He is also dependent, and immobile, for fear of endangering his journeys with vehicles, cliffs, wild beasts, and other dangers avoidable through vision. Blindness also severs one’s tie to others…he does not know if, or who is around him. Others who approach him initiate his relationships, he cannot. This integral, social need and interaction is severely compromised. Vision is also the primary tool for observing the world, and gaining knowledge through examination. In essence, a blind person is removed from primary features of life: both psychological and intellectual.  He shares these traits with the dead. Why is a deaf or mute person not also considered dead? One who is deaf or mute, merely lacks a communication tool, but still enjoys independence of movement, personal interaction, seeing a friend’s smile, and beautiful scenery. Primary aspects of life are not lost when deaf or mute.


Why is a blind person not overpowered by his yetzer hara, his instincts, as is a person with vision? This is expressed in the Shima: “And you shall not stray after your heart and after your eyes”. We learn that man’s instincts may be aroused through internal thoughts (heart) and external impetuses (eyes). But when vision is lost, that stimulus to stray after one’s eyes is absent, and therefore we may correctly state his instincts have ceased from him, although if he desires, he can still sin like anyone else.