The Torah relates that our forefather Yitzchok was blind. How did this happen? Our Sages teach us that when Yitzchok was 37 years old he was bound by his father Avraham to an altar to heed the call of G-d to offer his son as a sacrifice. This lofty spiritual event opened the seven Heavens and Yitzchok caught a glimpse of the Heavenly realm. This was more that the human eye could process and it dimmed his eyesight.
Additionally, the event of the binding of Yitzchok stirred the angels in Heaven to tears, for they didn’t want to see him die. Those fiery angelic tears fell into the eyes of Yitzchok and contributed to his dimmed eyesight.
As Avraham was about to sacrifice his son, Hashem commanded him to stop.
Years later, when Yitzchok was 123 years old, he wished to bestow the patriarchal blessing that he received from his father onto his first born son Aisav. The Torah relates that Yitzchok became completely blind. What caused this level of blindness and why did it occur at this specific time? Rashi explains that the Torah had just mentioned that Aisav had married two Hittite women who were idol worshippers. They would burn incense to their idols which caused the spiritual Yitzchok to become blind.
The Talmud states an additional reason for Yitzchok’s blindness. For years, Aisav had ‘pulled the wool over his father eyes’ and presented himself as righteous. Our Sages tell us that Aisav was second to none in his care and respect to his father. However, the Torah attests that Aisav was wicked through and through. When Yitzchok would gaze at Aisav, although he was not aware of his wickedness, his innate evil countenance penetrated Yitzchok’s pure and holy eyesight and affected him negatively.
In addition, G-d caused blindness to Yitzchok so that Yaacov, the rightful recipient of the blessings, would be able to receive the blessings, as we will explain.
Rivka instructed her son Yaacov to disguise himself as Aisav by wearing Aisav’s special clothing in order to receive the blessing from his father. When Yaakov arrived, Yitzchok was surprised that Aisav had prepared so quickly the special delicacies that he had asked for.
The Torah relates that Yitzchok utilized four of his senses to identify if it was indeed Aisav or an imposter.
He felt him to see if he was hairy like Aisav. He passed this test, because Yaacov wore Aisav’s special hairy garments.
Yitzchok smelled Yaacov, and he smelled the scent of the Garden of Eden – for Aisav had attained Adam’s garments that G-d made for him while he was still in the Garden of Eden.
Our Sages explain that Yaacov did not need these garments to radiate this special scent for it emanated from his holy being.
Yitzchok tasted the food – which Rivka had prepared per Aisav’s recipe.
Yitzckok also checked if his voice was that of Aisav.
When he heard the voice, Yitzchok proclaimed, “The voice is the voice of Yaacov and the hands are the hands Aisav.”
Even though Yitzchok was not certain regarding the voice, he still blessed Yaacov while thinking it was Aisav.
Why did he do so? We have a concept in Halacha – Jewish law – if someone is not sure if he must recite a blessing, he should not recite a blessing out of doubt. Therefore, asks the Apter Rav, since Yitzchok had a doubt as to whom he was giving the blessing based on the variation of the voice, why didn’t he refrain from conveying the blessing?
The Apter Rav explains that Aisav had been concerned that Yaacov may stand in to receive the special blessings, because he knew full well that he had sold the rights to Yaacov years earlier. To cover his bases, he made up with his father that when he returns he would change his voice to sound like the calm distinct voice of Yaacov.
Rivka, who overheard this exchange, instructed Yaacov to pretend he was Aisav by changing his clothing but not disguising his voice like Aisav.
We can now understand what Yitzchok meant by, “The voice is the voice of Yaacov and the hands are the hands of Eisav.” It wasn’t that he was questioning it, rather it was a statement of certainty, as per Aisav’s strategy, and he therefore gave the blessings to Yaacov, the person standing there, wholeheartedly.
When Aisav came to his father just after he had bestowed the blessings to Yaacov, Yitzchok became fully aware of Aisav’s wickedness and that he had given up the patriarchal firstborn rights to Yaacov by selling it to him.
Our Sages point out that when the wicked Aisav appeared before his father, devoid of the special garments of Adam, Yitzchok began to tremble because he saw gehennom opened up beneath him. Conversely, when the righteous Yaacov came in, the aromatic scent of the Garden of Eden accompanied him,
For over 50 years the Yeshiva of Scranton and the Scranton Jewish Community had the merit of having Rabbi Avrohom Turin living in our midst. Sadly, this week Rabbi Turin passed away.
Rabbi Turin was the embodiment of a great Torah scholar and ethical teacher. He was wise, he was compassionate, he was kind and he knew what to say and what a person needed to hear in order to encourage them or propel them to take a better course in their life’s decisions.
The Rabbi was a teacher and mentor to students of all ages and backgrounds. .
One who looked at his spiritual countenance and observed his calculated and proper demeanor, was positively impressed and inspired. He exuded a sense of true reverence of the Almighty and exemplified the virtues of his namesake, our forefather Avraham.
One who was in his proximity felt and recognized his blessed and revered presence. On a subtle level, he gave us the ability to imagine the meaning of the blessed spiritual aura that accompanied Yaacov when he received the blessings.
We will sorely miss Rabbi Turin, but the lessons he imparted will continuously live on!