With Those Eyes He Smelled
By Rabbi Label Lam
His father Yitzchok said to him, “Come close to me and kiss me my son.” He
came close and kissed him. He (Yitzchok) smelled the fragrance of his
garments, and he blessed him. He said, “See my son’s fragrance is like the
fragrance of a field blessed by HASHEM!” (Breishis 27:26-27)
He smelled the fragrance: Isn’t it true that there is no smell more
offensive than that of goat skins?! From here we learn that the essence of
the Garden of Eden entered with him. (Rashi)
There are a few points of difficulty to ponder in this verse!
Wasn’t Yitzchok blind? How come he says, “See my son’s fragrance is like
the fragrance of a field blessed by HASHEM”? What and how did he see? Why
would a blind person appeal to the sense of sight when referring to a smell?
Rashi exposes and resolves the matter of the goat skins which have a
notoriously putrid smell. Why did he perceive it as a delightful fragrance?
It was the smell of Gan Eden that entered with him. Now, asks the Sefas
Emes, “What’s with “his garments”?” If it was a wind of spirituality that
blew in, then why mention that Yitzchok smelled?
The Sefas Emes answers as follows: “Through a person’s actions he acquires
garments for his NESHAMA- his soul. In the Zohar it is written that though
Torah learning one merits a garment for his RUACH – his spirit in the Garden
of Eden. Through his thoughts and desires he merits a garment for his
NESHAMA. And a truly righteous person, a Tzadik, merits those spiritual
elevations even in this world!” I suppose it was discernible to Yitzchok
that such a person entered the room to receive the coveted blessings.
Why then did Yitzchok, who was blind, speak about seeing the pleasing
fragrance of his son?
Twenty years ago when I was with my family in Jerusalem for the summer we
went to visit an elderly woman who was blind the entire duration of her
life. My wife used to read and write letters for her when she was in
seminary back in the day. Her husband was also blind and they raised three
sited children in the modern city of Jerusalem.
Before ascending the stairs to visit we gave a brief cautionary lecture to
our three young boys counseling them not to be startled by the slightly
unusual appearance of the woman we were about to visit. When we entered, she
unhesitatingly reached to the wall and flipped on the light switch for us.
It was an act of incredible thoughtfulness. She did not need the light at
all. Then we seated ourselves and she began to discern who was in the room.
Without touching or seeing she began to offer deep readings and insights
into the nature of each child. My wife and I exchanged glances acknowledging
each other’s amazement. She was spot on and then some!
After the encounter we descended to street level and my 4 year old Eli
looked up at us and made the following profound declaration, “Ima- Abba,
that woman can’t see with her eyes, but she sure can see with her heart!” We
are all aware of the phenomena that when a person is deprived of given sense
the other senses will tend to compensate and create a complete picture of
reality and sometimes a better and more detailed picture. Painter of
colorful and exotic scenery, Paul Gauguin said, “I shut my eyes in order to
see!” Perhaps we can say with regard to Yitzchok, that his seeing was not a
material vision but rather a deeper perception of reality, as the Targum
implies, “CHAZI” to visualize, and it’s with those eyes he smelled!
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.