I know we’ve moved on from the epic story of Jacob and Leah in the parsha. This week, we’re talking about Joseph and his dreams and how he wound up sold into slavery. However, in my own life, this morning, the idea of Leah’s eyes came to me.
It’s often said that Leah’s eyes were weakened by all her tears. The explanation given was that she longed for Jacob to love her the same way he loved her sister, Rachel, and that love didn’t come naturally between them. She wept and worked to give him more sons, trying to earn his love. The implication is always that this was at least mostly successful, but that Jacob’s love for Rachel was always on a whole other level than his love for Leah.
Leah cried so much and so often that it affected her vision.
This past month, I’ve had a lot of tears. First, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. Then, last week, my son was diagnosed with a condition that requires 1/2 of his own colon to be removed. This week? My daughter was diagnosed with severe depression, serious enough that we had to check her in to the hospital.
I’ve had a lot of reasons to cry as I’ve been trying to take care of everyone. Today, this morning, I realized that I felt like my own vision was being dimmed, not in a physical sense, but in a broader sense. I realized that I have fallen into a state of self-pity with all this going on that was blurring my ability to see past my own afflictions.
As a result of this, I was pulling back from social obligations. I stopped going to my regular classes I usually attend. There was always some ready excuse, someone who needed something or I was just too tired. I stopped eating healthy because, as I told myself, all my effort was going into tracking appointments, giving out medicines, and work. I stopped trying to help others, because, I reasoned, my family needed all of me right now.
Some of that is true and I think it’s healthy to pull back some, but I did it too much. All these illnesses wound together into a cloud I just couldn’t see past. I was focused so much on myself and my family that I just couldn’t see.
That is, until I saw my daughter break down, her mind simply overwhelmed by it all. Suddenly I realized that if I didn’t change what I was doing, I’d need a room near hers, that all of this would just swallow me up.
So, today, I’m going to a fahrbrigin, a Chassidic gathering. I may not feel like my mood matches the joy there, but it will be good for me to be where there is joy and inspiration. I’m going to commit to fitting in my studies wherever I can. I’m going to eat healthier because my family needs me.
My family needs my eyes clear, able to see past the trials and sadness to lift them up. For them, I can’t let my eyes dim.