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Section: Parshas HaShavua   Category: Life Lessons
Parshas Vayigash: To See Better, Yaakov Covers His Eyes

In what is considered to be one of the most intriguing incidents in the Torah, Yaakov finally meets with his dear son Yosef after 22 years of being apart from each other and Yaakov chooses that very emotional moment to recite Krias Shema, rather than return an embrace with his son. Much has been said about this encounter, but an interesting explanation is given by a talmid of the Chasam Sofer, in Shu”t Kol Aryeh.  

Why is it that Yaakov chose Krias Shema, of all things, to be reciting at that point? He explains that the point of Krias Shema is total hisbatlus to the rotzon Hashem. By saying Shema, we acknowledge that Hashem, written in the four-letter form and corresponding to the middah of rachamim, and Elokim, which corresponds to midas hadin, are all Echad. Even though one may go through rough and difficult times in their life, we all know and believe that everything is for our ultimate good. Obviously, this is oftentimes difficult to feel despite the knowledge of its truth. By covering our eyes during Krias Shema, we ‘force’ ourselves not to be swayed by what our fleishige eyes might see as ‘reality’, but in fact close our eyes and believe that Hashem is behind it all from the standpoint of rachamim and hope for that rachamim to be evident to all, when it will truly be Hashem Echad.      

This concept was most apparent to Yaakov as he was going to Mitzrayim. All the pain and suffering that he endured, while it was indeed a tremendous challenge and great yisurim, was for the good of his family, for Yosef was the provider of their sustenance during the great famine across the world at the time. Yet, despite this realization, he was still worried about the future of Klal Yisroel in the galus mitzrayim. It was then that Hashem came to him in a dream and promised that “Yosef will cover your eyes” (V’yosef yashis yado al einecha”) to which the Zohar comments cryptically, “this is the secret of Krias Shema.” This ‘secret’ refers to the idea that placing your total trust in Hashem leads to yeshuos and geula.  The story of "Yosef" will teach you that it is better to put your hands on your eyes because they don't always tell the truth.  Better to look upward.

How ironic, in fact, is that throughout the generations, this secret has been brought forth innumerous times by all the kedoshim who were led to their death by reciting shema. When one wants to see an object close by, he simply looks at it. If the object is further away, his eyes would squint to see that sight. If one wants to see yet farther, to see nitzchiyus, in fact, we close our eyes fully. We are mivatel ourselves and seek Hashem’s ultimate mercy – the day when all will realize Hashem Echad U’shemo Echad.