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Thought for the Day: Using Rashi to Learn How to Learn

Right at the beginning of chapter 27 of the book of Genesis, we are told that Yitchak Avinu's eyes became dim and it was difficult for him to see.  Rashi brings three quite disparate explanations of the "simple" meaning of this verse:
  1. The smoke from the avoda zara offerings of Esav's wives damaged Yitzchak Avinu's vision.
  2. At the Akeida, the malachim had cried when they saw what was going on an their tears dropped into Yitzchak Avinu's eyes.
  3. It was in order to facilitate Yaakov Avinu getting the brachos.
It is tempting to think that Rashi is learning the first reason because the previous verse told us about how distressing Esav's marriages were to Rivka and Yitchak (in fact,  Rashi tells us there that Esav's parents were disturbed by their avoda zara).  That's pretty good, actually... so why do I need two more?  The third explanation may come from the context and our knowledge that Yaakov is going to be sneaky in getting the brachos, so it is certainly convenient that his father can't see very well.  More than a little contrived, no?  Finally, we have the second explanation, that seems totally incongruous and out of the blue.  (Yes; pun intended.  "out the blue", like "out of the blue sky", and sky in hebrew is shamayim.  I love puns.)

Therefore, I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Rashi has something deeper in mind.  Rashi is reminding us that the Chumash is not a history book or a collection of stories.  The Chumash is relating vital information that we need to know.  Hence, we ought to be asking ourselves:
  1. What caused this to happen? (The smoke from the offerings of Esav's wives.)
  2. What was special about Yitzhchak Avinu that could allow this to happen?  (His eyes had be bathed in the spiritually charged tears of the malachim crying over his sacrifice.)
  3. Why was it necessary for this to happen? (So Yaakov Avinu could get the brachos.)
There is certainly a lot more to be learned here, but Rashi has given us a start.  Your turn now.


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