Blind Spot – Parashat Toldot
Chana, a longtime preschool teacher, told me that every summer when she prepares her classroom for the coming year, her assistant Iris’s husband, Michael, comes along with his wife to help. Michael walks around the classroom, wading through boxes and the disarray of furniture, and announces things like, “These shelves should be moved across the room. The rug should be positioned over there.” Iris’s husband is blessed with a keen sense of spatial design.
But what’s most fascinating about Michael is that he’s missing another very vital sense.
Michael is blind.
What the eyes don’t see
“And it came to pass that when Yitzchak grew old, his eyes dimmed,” (Bereishit 27:35).
As a designer, I feel that one who doesn’t see misses out on so much of this beautiful, aesthetic world. Color. Design. Perspective. I can’t even imagine what it means to imagine something that I’ve never seen! On the other hand, the visually impaired compensate for their lack of vision by honing their other senses.
The sense of hearing. “And the voice is the voice of Yaakov.”
The sense of touch. “And Yitzchak said to Yaakov, ‘Please approach, and I will feel you, my son.’”
The sense of smell. “And he kissed him, and he smelled the scent of his garments, and he blessed him…The scent of my son is the scent of the field that Hashem blessed.”
And the extra sense that Michael possesses.
Sometimes, when the eyes are open too wide, they automatically search for and find fault. The mental control center works overtime and it’s impossible to just dive into an event and experience it with a bit of blessed obliviousness.
I’ll never forget the taste of that pasta that I ordered in Na Lagaat, a restaurant in Jaffa. Each and every bite was simply heavenly.
Na Lagaat invites the seeing person to experience a bit of what the blind person lives every day of life. For several hours, the restaurant eliminates you vision, allowing you to discover something much deeper.
You’re given a menu and place your order outside, in the light. But as soon as you’re inside, you enter a different world, passing through one door and then another and then another into a room that is completely black.
I find myself relying on a blind waitress who carefully steers me to a vacant seat and helps me sit. (Yes, I can feel the chair beneath me!) The chair is positioned in front of a table (which I also feel). The waitress then invites me to touch and familiarize myself with everything on the table. “Here’s the knife, fork, plate and cup. The cup already has water in it, but if you want more, call me and I’ll pour for you. And don’t forget that your husband is here too!” she whispers before disappearing into the darkness, or at least I think that she disappears…
It is here that I rediscover concepts of trust, curiosity and tenderness, and many other senses that I completely forgot that I had…
My blind spot
I dedicate this post to the many senses that are called upon in the world of design.
Textures that invite one to feel.
Spices and herbs that invite one to smell.
Wind chimes ringing on the porch that invite one to hear.
from home sweet homemade
I invite us all to step into the shoes – or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say ‘glasses’ – of somebody else and imagine the atmosphere.
And if it’s too hard to do on your own, close your eyes and trust me as I lead you where you want to go…