Thursday, November 19, 2015

Parshas Vayaitzay 5776, November 2015; Inclusion

At the beginning of this week's parsha, Yaakov flees from his brother Aisav, but Aisav (according to Midrash Tanchuma) or his son Elifaz (according to most sources) pursued him, stole all the goods he carried and even his mount and clothing, and left him naked and completely destitute.

He encounters Rochel and through her, her sister Leah, whom we are told (Bereishis Rabbah) had weak eyes and poor eyesight due to her years of prayer and crying to G-d to save her from marrying the even Aisav. Further, in next week's parsha (jumping ahead just a bit) we read how Yaakov encountered the protective angel of Edom, the nation of Aisav, fought with the angel, and was injured permanently in the leg.

We know that gifts given to G-d as karbanos in any form must be perfect. Yet we learn here that the father of the entire nation and the first wife and mother of fully half that nation each had specific disabilities. What can this tell us?
Those with invisible, intellectual and/or developmental disabilities
can be included in the community. It's dependent and incumbent
on the community and its constituent members to be inclusive.
It teaches us that humans are not the same as things, and that every single human of any ability is precious in G-d's eyes as any other. If anything, they are especially precious given this precedent. It is incumbent on all of the nation of Israel therefore to ensure that those with any form of disability should feel as honored as the mother or father of our entire nation. Surely theirs are the most special neshamos and they are the most like Yaakov and Leah we will find in our lifetimes.

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