The Eye of Abundance (Metzora)
The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar, and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition. -W. H. Auden
The Torah reading of Metzora deals in part, with ritual contamination and the required process of purification. The Berdichever connects the process with our anthropomorphizing of God’s attributes as well as the concept of subservience of some human capabilities to the will of God.
When the Torah or the Prophets attribute human characteristics to God, it creates a theological conundrum. When we speak of God hearing or God seeing, how does that work? Does God have ears? Does God have eyes? What would be the form and shape of those human-like organs? How do those divine senses work? Where in space are they situated?
The answer is that when the Torah or the Prophets talk about God’s hand or eyes or feet, it is only a metaphor. When it speaks of God’s eye it is a metaphor for the fact that God perceives. God “sees” without needing eyes or having any physical attributes. God is not limited in space or time. It is impossible for a human to understand, hence we rely on the simple and crude anthropomorphization.
On the other hand, the Berdichever discusses our very human faculties, specifically sight, hearing and speech and then focuses on the sense of sight and relates it to God’s “sight.” There is a deep and intrinsic connection between human sight and divine sight.
God has blessed us with a number of faculties and abilities. We can use these for good or we can use them for evil. The eye is not an impartial sense. The eye can be used to gaze upon good and wholesome views, and it can likewise be used to look upon bad, improper and outright detestable sights.
The Berdichever explains that if we God-forbid gaze upon inappropriate things, then the divine “eye,” the eye that is responsible for determining the blessings and the abundance that we receive will be “closed” to us. However, if we use our vision for good things, for beneficial things, then the divine vision will see to it that we are appropriately blessed.
Hence, one of the prayers to God where we ask Him to “open” His eyes. We are admitting to our guilt and to the realization that the divine eye has been closed to us. Now that we’ve admitted our guilt and hopefully are mending our ways, we are now asking God to open His eyes. To bless us. To realize that we are human, that we have erred, but that we are redoubling our efforts to mend our ways and use our divine gifts in His service.
May we use all of our attributes for good and God, and benefit from growing blessings.