This has been a painful week. Another painful in a succession of weeks filled with pain. This week has seen broken glass, vile expressions of anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia, and a shattered sense of safety among our youth. The events at Denver Academy of Torah and George Washington High School, seemingly unrelated, are linked by the continuation of ignorance and of blindness.
Reading our Torah portion Vayera anew brings into focus something essential, elemental, something hidden by the reading’s lofty pursuits, something requiring different vision.
Rabbi Ely E. Pilchik describes “three eyes.” The first eye refers to our physical eye. It is this eye that provides us with our most immediate access to the physical world. The second eye is the eye of the mind. This eye transforms a rocky peak from granite and dirt into inspiration and awe. This is the eye of “hind-sight and insight and foresight.” And there is the soul’s eye. The soul’s eye is most unlimited. It is the eye that senses the “mystique of the eternal faith,” and through which we see the fundamental truths of the human condition.
Through the lens of the soul’s eye, Abraham envisions three travelers, sees their needs — despite his own discomfort from his circumcision and from the heat of the day — and inspires him to run to greet his guests. It is the soul’s eye through which Abraham sees the human indignities in Sodom, and yet argues with God to save the wicked many for the sake of the righteous few. And it is the soul’s eye through which Abraham sees the sacrificial ram, ending child sacrifice and sparing his son Isaac. It is through this eye we see the shared human experience and the common bonds between each of us.
This spiritual eye, working well beyond the mechanical limitations of the physical eye, and even beyond the less limited mind’s eye, grasps the “vision of that which stands beyond and behind and within.” It is the spiritual eye that, if opened, enables us to see the sanctity in every fellow human being.
Rabbi Jay Strear
President & CEO
Please email Rabbi Strear at CEO@JEWISHcolorado.org with comments or questions.