Reb on the Web


In our tradition, the morning service begins with a series of blessings to remind us that we must start each new day with gratitude.  The first blessing praises God for giving us the ability to distinguish between night and day.  There is a blessing that praises God for creating us in the divine image.  Still another blessing thanks God for giving us the gift of Judaism.  But then there is a blessing that has always puzzled me.  Praised are You Adonai our God who gives sight to the blind.


Is this a blessing that only blind people who have regained their sight can pronounce?  Or does this blessing challenge us to not be so literal and to instead consider that there may be things in our lives that we are just not seeing? Richard Riggs is 70 years old and he is colorblind.  For his whole life colors like green or red meant nothing to Richard.  For Richard, colors were a blur and then one day something happened.  Richard tripped and fell on his head.  The fall was severe enough to momentarily knock him out.  When Richard opened his eyes, he was greeted with an explosion of color – blue, green, yellow, purple.  For the first time in his life he experienced living color.  What did Richard do?  He decided to book himself a trip to Hawaii.  When asked why he chose Hawaii, Richard answered, to “see the colors of the flowers and to perhaps even see fully for the first time some colorful bikinis!”


In this little story I find some powerful lessons.   Sometimes the bad things that happen to us in life (all those falls and knocks on the head) can turn out to be a really good thing.  Remember that, the next time life almost knocks you out.  Never be too busy to enjoy the colors! In other words, be more cognizant of your surroundings and of the people who surround you.  You may be missing out, not only on the vibrancy of the colors, but on the vibrancy and joy that comes from enjoying special people and special relationships. Sometimes we get so busy and stressed that we fail to slow down enough to open our eyes and fully see.  Perhaps that is what the prayer book means when it says, “Praised are You Adonai our God, who gives the gift of sight to the blind.”

Perhaps our ability to more fully see and experience life is an ongoing gift from God that is extended to us every time we open our eyes in the morning. Sometimes you don’t have to be colorblind to miss out on the colors.  Thus the question – can you see the colors?


What am I really saying?  Look.  Hear.  Pray.   Sing.   Learn.   Live.


You can do that best if you slow down enough to see – fully see, not only the colors, but the people in your life.  When that happens it is as if you have opened your eyes and truly seen.