July 24, 2024
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July 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

My children’s beloved pediatrician recently shared an interesting insight with me. He noted that it is believed by many that the only part of our anatomy that stays the same size throughout our lives is the cornea of our eyes. Scientists assert that this is because the cornea does not have any blood supply. This idea reminded me of a terrifying incident from my childhood. I woke up one morning with my eyes sealed closed. I was frightened and started screaming. It turned out that I had a serious case of conjunctivitis and needed warm compresses applied in order to just be able to open my eyes. Our eyes are so precious and fragile that even a small speck of sand can cause irritation. Too often we take our vision for granted and gain a newfound appreciation when we recover from some type of eye inflammation or wound. To understand the marvels of the human eye even on the surface is to truly understand Hashem’s mastery in creation.

When the Torah describes the appearance of the tzara’at affliction on one’s clothing, it uses the word “eino.” Rashi defines the word eino as “its appearance.” The Chiddushei Harim quotes the Gemara in Arachin that states that one of the character traits that leads to the skin affliction of tzara’at is called “tzarut ayin,” loosely translated as the narrowness of the eye. The individual contracted tzara’at because of the narrowness of the eye in that the individual did not change their “eye” from looking at people in a negative light to looking at others in a positive light. Our eyes are a very critical part of who we are. Chazal tells us that one can peer into a person’s eyes and get a glimpse of his/her soul. While the physical size of the cornea may not change, our vision certainly does, physically as well as figuratively. Many of us as adults look back at some of our behavior when we were younger with disdain. Many of us have moments of immaturity that we recall with embarrassment. We think about the hurtful way that we may have acted, or the offensive language we may have used that caused pain to others, especially to people we loved the most like our parents, siblings or other close relatives. In many situations we are able to make amends and our parents are accepting of our overtures, recognizing that we were young and immature.

Yet, certain situations may not go as smoothly. Parents or loved ones may have been so hurt that they don’t give their children or relatives the opportunity to atone for the mistakes of our early years. As a result, the individual may feel the rejection and pull away as well. The converse can also be true. As children and relatives, we may not give our loved ones ample opportunity to revisit the pain they have caused during the complicated child-rearing and teenage years of our lives. The result is that a standoff ensues in the relationship. Weeks, months and years can pass by and all parties lose in the process. Birthday parties, siddur plays and family simchas feel incomplete with the knowledge that someone is missing. Inevitably, our vision changes over the years on some level, but that is not the only thing that changes. The way in which we look at ourselves and the world around us most certainly changes as well. We are afforded the opportunity to look at ourselves in a more honest way and are formed by our life experiences into mature adults. We all continue to evolve as people each and every day of our lives. For those who find themselves in these unfortunate situations, we can only hope that the people who were once cherished parts of our lives can allow their view of us to change as well. Such a turn in a right direction would afford us the opportunity to see them once again.

By Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler

 Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler is rabbi of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, New Jersey, and is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice. Rabbi Zwickler can be reached at [email protected].

 

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