Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Seeing and being seen

R. Yose said: All my life I have been perplexed by the verse "And thou shalt grope at noonday as the blind gropeth in darkness" (Deut. 28:29). What difference [I asked], does it make to a blind man whether it be dark or light? [Nor did I find the answer] until the following incident occurred. I was once walking at the darkest time of the night when I saw a blind man walking on the road with a torch in his hand. I said to him, "My son, what need have you for this torch?" He replied, "As long as I have this torch in my hand, people see me and save me from holes, thorns, and briers."
This suggests how important being seen is. Today, when driving at night we are often dependent on those walking or biking be visible. The same is true of drivers, if you are driving a car at night without the headlights on, you risk being hit by another car or hitting a biker or pedestrian or biker. The blind man depends on others seeing him to get necessary help. All of us are blind in some way and when and if we allow others to realize it, they can help us.

1 comment:

Aharon said...

Elsewhere (in ברכות מג ב (Tractate Berakhot 43b) the tradition of carrying torches to avoid Mazikin (dangerous spirits) is invoked. Harmful spirits will manifest as dangerous objects, and so to avoid them travelers are enjoined to carry a torch (and a traveling companion) or else travel by moonlight for the sake of their health. While it was taught that a person traveling alone can both see and be harmed by mazikin, two traveling together can see but not be harmed. Three people will not see nor be harmed. -- and moonlight is as good as two traveling companions, and a torch is as good as one. The exceptional case of a blind man traveling alone helps explain the teaching since the "virtual companion" provided by the torch obviously cannot see for him. But the case of two traveling together and avoiding harm should still apply to him, per the blind man's explanation -- we are enjoined to look out for each other. Just as the Torah forbids us to place a stumbling block before the blind, here the rabbis appear to enjoin us to also make certain to remove harmful obstacles that might bring travail to travelers.