1

In Rashi on Bereishit 28:13, there is an explanation as to why the text speaks of "the God of Isaac" even though Isaac is still alive. {text and translation from Chabad] }

ואלהי יצחק: אף על פי שלא מצינו במקרא שייחד הקב"ה שמו על הצדיקים בחייהם לכתוב אלהי פלוני, משום שנאמר (איוב טו טו) הן בקדושיו לא יאמין, כאן ייחד שמו על יצחק לפי שכהו עיניו וכלוא היה בבית, והרי הוא כמת, ויצר הרע פסק ממנו:

and the God of Isaac: Although we do not find in Scripture that the Holy One, blessed be He, associates His name with that of the righteous during their lifetimes by writing “the God of so-and-so,” for it is said (Job 15:15):“Lo! He does not believe in His holy ones,” [i.e., God does not consider even His holy ones as righteous until after their deaths, when they are no longer subject to the evil inclination,] nevertheless, here He associated His name with Isaac because his eyes had become dim, and he was confined in the house, and he was like a dead person, the evil inclination having ceased from him (Tanchuma Toledoth 7).

This seems to explain that being blind and housebound either causes the evil inclination to be removed, or that those 2 qualities, along with the removal of the evil inclination creates a status of "like a dead person."

Is there any halachic implication to that? Would someone visiting Isaac be tamei met? Would someone today who is blind and housebound (especially a tzaddik) be considered "dead" for any practical purposes?

1

From the explanation of Rav Hirsch it appears that Avraham is called Avicha and not Yitzchak because the inheritance (and the bracha) was passed along to Yaakov. It was now his turn "to build a complete Jewish household" and to create the "Abrahamitic future". Thus, since Yitzchak was housebound and blind, he could not take an active part in the community that he lived in and was thus "dead" as far as those he had been influencing were concerned.

Based on the way that Rav Hirsch explains the situation, it is referring to the hashkafa and the ruchnius aspect of the situation. Since Yitzchak was still physically alive, then it would not cause actual tum'a.

Similarly Rash"i uses the term כמת rather than מת which again implies a spiritual similarity rather than actually being considered "dead". Also note that Yitzchak at this time would be about 137. That is Yaakov has spent the last fourteen years at the Yeshivah of Eiver after having left home at 63 (when Yitzchak was 123) so that Yitzchak has another 43 years to live.

Also note that Yitzchak is not considered "dead" for a practical purpose, but just for the purpose of the bracha of Hashem and being in the status of the next link in the chain of succession.

  • so the absence of the evil inclination is immaterial to the status? – rosends Nov 22 '15 at 16:38
  • @Danno That would mean that he has reached the ultimate level that he can and he is now in the status of an Omed. He would no longer be subject to dropping in his level (as happened to Noach). – sabbahillel Nov 23 '15 at 2:27
0

In terms of your two possibilities

being blind and housebound either causes the evil inclination to be removed, or that those 2 qualities, along with the removal of the evil inclination creates a status of "like a dead person"

the text of Rashi implies the first. First of all, Rashi does not say

שיצר הרע פסק ממנו

which would mean the Chabad translation, "the evil inclination having ceased from him," but rather

ויצר הרע פסק ממנו

which translates to and the evil inclination had ceased from him. Thus the point about the cessation of the evil inclination is not stated as an antecedent to his being like a dead person, but as an additional detail.

Secondly, the wording of Rashi is

לפי שכהו עיניו וכלוא היה בבית, והרי הוא כמת

because his eyes had become dim and he was confined to the house, and behold he was like a dead person

the word הרי conveying a consequence. Thus, the status of being like he was dead was a consequence of the two points that he was blind and confined to the house.

That being said:

The Magen Avraham in his Zayis Ra'anan commentary to Yalkut cites a medrash which says that Yaakov Avinu had the status of a Kohen, and based thereon asks how Rachel could have taken the terafim, which were made out of a corpse, into the tent of Yaakov. So apparently Yaakov was enough of a Kohen to not be allowed to become impure.

Yaakov went into Yitzchok's tent when Yitzchok was blind, and even touched him, so it seems there is no issue of tumas mes by a blind person.

  • but doesn't he do that before this posuk on which the comment is that he is like a dead person? – rosends Nov 23 '15 at 3:28
  • @Danno the Rashi which you are basing your question off of is quoting from before that (26:1). The blindness he is referring to in this Rashi was the reason he couldn't tell that Yaakov was not Eisav. – Y     e     z Nov 23 '15 at 3:38
  • But why assume that when Yaakov went for the blessing, the yetzer harah was absent also? Was that a consequence of being blind and housebound, or was it a separate and necessary component to being "like dead"? – rosends Nov 23 '15 at 11:16
  • @Danno The Hebrew text of the Rashi says שכהו עיניו וכלוא היה בבית, והרי הוא כמת - his eyes had dimmed and he was confined to the home, and behold he was like a dead person. (Additionally, the last words do not say "שיצר הרע פסק ממנו" which would translate to what your translation has, but "ויצר הרע פסק ממנו" - "and the evil inclination had ceased from him" - it is not stated as an antecedent to his being like a dead person, but as an additional detail.) His being like a dead person is associated with the first two points - blind and housebound. Those were both from before Yaakov came – Y     e     z Nov 24 '15 at 1:44
  • @Danno I have edited all of this into the question now. – Y     e     z Nov 24 '15 at 1:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .