As we approach Yom Kippur I was thinking of the daily blessing, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, for giving sight to the blind.” It is a troubling blessing. On the most literal level, this is obviously not true. Additionally, what a strange blessing to say, as the vast majority of us are not blind and can see fine. So we are saying a blessing that isn’t true and isn’t relevant to the vast majority of us. Since I think the rabbis were actually pretty intelligent, there must be deeper reasons for including this blessing.
Every year we could be overcome by all the terrible things that happen in our world. Globally, the terrible waste of life, the hurricanes, and the utter evil that some people inflict on others areis downright depressing. On a personal scale, there are too many tragedies. Whether within our families or within our community, there are too many who are struggling with illness and death, betrayal, and pain. Sometimes it is hard to see the good in the world. At Yom Kippur I think it is important to look for the good. There are so many people who do good things for others every day. People who drive a homebound person to the store, campers who volunteer to work with children with disabilities, and families that volunteer at soup kitchens. Look around your synagogue, I bet you find tons of people who are doing good things for others. By seeing the good in the world we can strengthen our resolve to also do good.
Even with good people, sometimes I believe that we are still blind to thosepeople in need. Again, I’m thinking personally, in our families and in our communities. We have such power to influence others. Yet, in our busy lives do we take the time to truly see? Time to see our children who are wantingdying to be noticed and to hear one compliment about something they have accomplished. Time to see our parents and all that they have done for us and to say thank you. Time to see someone lonely or hurt that we can help simply by listening to them. Again, look around at your community, there are so many people to see that we can help.
All of us are blind at some point in our lives. It is natural to be turned inward and to focus on ourselves. Sometimes we simply do not see the world around us, the good, and also the needy. This year, may we be blessed with sight so that we can take action to do even more good for each other and our world.
G’mar Chatimah Tova.
Rabbi Ed Gelb is the director of Camp Ramah – New England.