Friday, November 2, 2007

Seeing Beyond

Posted by IshbitzForever

When she (Rebecca) finshed giving him (Eliezer) to drink she said, "I will draw water even for your camels until they have finished drinking."

Bereishit 24:19

The Talmud relates the following story:

The saintly scholar named Nachum Ish Gam Zu was laying in bed near death. He was blind and was missing his arms and legs. The ceiling of his decrepit home was creaking and began to crumble. "Remove everything from the house," Nachum told his gathered students, "then remove me - for as long as I am in here, my merit will prevent the ceiling from collapsing." The students did as their Rabbi instructed removing all utensils from the house. They then proceeded to carry the bed of their rabbi outside. The moment they were clear of the house the entire ceiling fell in.

The students asked, "Rabbi, if you have such merit how did it come to be that you lost your eyesight, your arms and legs?"

Nachum Ish Gam Zu said, "Let me tell you the story. I was once riding on a camel ladened with packages, and a poor man approached me asking for food. I got off my camel and proceeded to unpack to reach the food, but by the time I got to some the poor man had dropped dead of hunger. I was heartbroken and I said, "G-d, for my eyes not looking closely enough and seeing how hungry this man was, let me be punished by losing my eyesight. For my legs not moving fast enough to get down from the camel, let me lose my legs. For my hands not moving swift enough in unpacking, let me lose my hands" - and so it came to be. That is why you see me as you do today."

My friends - as Jews we are required to look around us. Not a casual glance, but good hard deep look. When we see an elderly person, we must wonder how they manage and ask if they need help with anything shopping, cleaning, cooking. When somone comes into shule and looks sad we must ask if they are ok, and follow up if something is wrong. This is true for countless situations. We can not pretend not to see, and when we do see we must open our hearts and look deeper.

Rebecca, although Eliezer simply asked for water for himself, she looked deeper and figured that for whatever reason he wasn't able to draw water for himself, so what will be with his camels? Not only did she not look away, she looked deeper!


  1. Gevalt! Three posts in the middle of the night? You are a machine!

  2. This is probably the most pressing relevant statement of our parsha.
    Careful, don't burn yourself out on your first day here!

  3. I am used to seeing sources on this blog. Do you have a source for this Talmudic passage?

  4. Your post reminded me of a Chasidic story I read in Buber's "Ten Rungs." A Ba'al Teshuvah must not necessarily abandon the deeds of his past, but find ways to transform them to the service of G-d. The question arises--what of the Ba'al Teshuva who was previously an atheist--how can he transform the denial of Hashem into the service of Hashem?

    The answer is given--if he sees a person in need, he should not say, "G-d will provide for him," but should act as if there were no G-d, and he was the only one in the world who could help him!