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Teviat Ayin

01/23/2020 02:14:10 PM


Rabbi Micah

I would like you to imagine with me for a moment that you did not know what a rabbit looked like or what it did.  All you have is someone elses word that the foot prints on the ground, the soft fur or a rabbit foot, and some teeth marks in the carrots as proof the rabbit exists.  You reason that the rabbit must be able to fly which is why you have never seen it.  You keep looking at the sky to try to see the rabbit and never do.

I would like to argue that this is what we do with God.  We assume that God works one way and keep looking for God where we think God should be, based on what we think we know of God, and never see God.  I think we need to start looking elsewhere for God.  We need to stop looking where we have been looking for God and start looking for God where God actually might be.

There is a halachick concept known as Teviat Ayin.  Teviat Ayin is the ability to grasp something quickly by merely glancing.  This is akin to a Sherlock Holmes walking into a room and being able to deduce what happened by the clues he sees.  Teviat Ayin is a skill that is built over time with practice.  It is a practice that comes from habituating oneself to noticing.

How do we notice God?

Allow me to share a story:

A student came to his Rabbi.

 “Rabbi” the student said, “if you will forgive me, there is something I must ask you.

“Please ask” replied the Rabbi.

 “You have told us that God addresses us in everything, both in wonders of nature and in the actions of humans.  But when I look around at the new inventions that have come into the world, I cannot see anything of value to be learned from them.  The railroads that cut across the land foul the air with their smoke and their noise.  The telephone removes us from the face of our neighbor.  And the telegraph reduces words – the most holy of things--to mere dots and dashes.  What can God possibly be teaching us through these things? “

The rabbi smiled patiently at the young man’s concern and answered, “Oh, but the holy one, is offering us His wisdom even through these new inventions.  You may have noticed that people who tarry in idleness often miss their train.  So you see the railroad teaches us that a moment’s hesitation can cause us to miss everything.  As for the telephone, it enables us to speak with others over long distances.  Therefore, it reminds us that what is said here is heard there.  And the telegraph?  Here we have perhaps the most important lesson of all. The telegraph teaches us that every word is counted- and charged.  Thus, even in these new and strange inventions God is speaking to us.”

And, hearing these words of his teacher, the young man began to habituate himself so he could begin to see God where he had thought there to be nothing.

Sat, January 23 2021 10 Shevat 5781