With Open Eyes: Bereishit

Sep 26th, 2010 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Portion of the Week
Opening a book I hadn’t seen in nine years, I found an inscription from a former student: “Thank you for opening my eyes to see Torah, Mitzvot, life, and myself, as never before. Your student forever, and with eternal thanks. S.”

Less than a year later, as I was dying in a hospital in Germany, he called to tell me that life is too painful to be lived with open eyes. He hasn’t spoken with me since.

Open eyes have allowed me to see painful realities about life and people, but I hope to never close them. Leonardo Da Vinci ‘s cosmology, which he called “Saper vedere,” – knowing how to see – was a blunt instrument that he used to assault the fatuity of his times, but it also empowered him to design plans for tanks, submarines, parachutes, the first revolving stage and much more. His knowing how to see gave us the Mona Lisa, and his study of anatomy.  He suffered for his vision but he never shut his eyes and the world continues to benefit from his knowing how to see.

Our eyes have been open since Elul. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur & Succot were toothpicks holding them open. What will we do now?  Will we keep our eyes wide open even when we will see things we would rather not? Or, will we keep them open to see everything around and about us with a fresh perspective and clarity? Have we fallen right back into ‘regular’ life without a festival every few days? Have we succeeded in leaving our new lenses in our eyes, watching everything with joy & anticipation?

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