Archive for the ‘Lifnei Iver/Do not put a stumbling block before the blind’ Category

Let’s Keep an Open Mind: Pokeiach Ivrim/Who opens our eyes

Books used in this review are from my personal library or were provided by my local public library. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my website and purchase it from Amazon, I may receive a very small commission on your purchase. You will incur no additional cost, however. I appreciate your support.
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I have been looking at the Nisim B’Chol Yom/the blessings for daily miracles recited during morning prayers. As a Reform Jew, I am most familiar with these blessings as found in the Mishkan Tefillah Siddur (the Reform Movement’s Shabbat prayer book) and recited on Shabbat mornings (Observant Jews say these prayers every morning and in a slightly different order.)  In a previous blog, we looked at books about time, because the first blessing is:

 “Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,

who has given the mind the ability to distinguish day and night.”

 The second blessing is:

 “Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,

who opens the eyes of the blind.”

 Even someone who is actually blind is required to read this blessing. That made me stop and think, are there other forms of blindness? That question led me to the value of Lifnei Iver/Do not put a stumbling block before the blind. It appears I discovered the “catch-all” mitzvah. Consider how many ways one might deliberately or inadvertently obstruct someone. If you wonder if something is right or wrong, apply the test of “Lifnei Iver/Do not put a stumbling block before the blind.” You will find your answer there.

As this one single value covers so much, I have narrowed my outlook to a certain form of blindness: The blindness that comes from not keeping an open mind to what is happening in the world around us.  Of course, being human, I suffer from this form of blindness no matter how hard I try to avoid it. I try to remember that there are two sides to every story, but often, I have my side determined and planted before the other side even speaks.  Still, I do listen, carefully, to what others say and do; I read everything I can get my hands on; I try to understand various viewpoints; and I have been known to have my mind and positions changed.

Getting a healthy dose of reality from children’s literature is very helpful. In the pages of these amazing books, people fight and make up, bad guys get what they deserve and lessons taught are lessons learned.  If only the world could be so easy.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.

Here are a few of the books that have opened my mind lately:

DuckRabbitDuck! Rabbit! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. ©2009, Chronicle Books. Ages 3-8.  What do you see when you look at this figure? What does your child see? With very few words, and a very simple illustration, an entire lesson in perspective, listening and understanding can be generated. We all really do not see the world in the same way.

 NeverTomatoI Will Never NOT EVER Eat a Tomato. Written and illustrated by Lauren Child. ©2000, Candlewick Press. Ages 4-8. When I was a child, you could not get me to eat broccoli if my life depended on it. Lola feels the same way about peas, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and many other kinds of foods, until her older brother Charlie figures out a creative way of looking at the food we eat.

AmazingGraceAmazing Grace. By Mary Hoffman. Illustrated by Caroline Binch. ©1991, Dial Books for Young Readers. Ages 4-8.”You can be anything you want, if you put your mind to it,” Says Grace’s Nana. Well, Grace wants to be Peter Pan in her school’s play. Even if Raj thinks she can’t because she is a girl. Natalie says she can’t because she is black. Grace will show them how she can, and will, and does!


The Most Magnificent Mosque. By Anne Jungman. Illustrated by Shelley Fowles. ©2004, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. Ages 6-10.  Three young boys – Rashid, a Muslim, Samuel, a Jew, and Miguel, a Christian – play, and create mischief, together in the beautiful gardens of the Great Mosque in Cordoba, Spain. Until the day they were caught dropping rotten oranges on the Caliph! Their punishment – to work in the gardens for 3 months – creates a lifelong friendship between them and an enduring bond with the mosque. When a Christian king takes over Cordoba and threatens to destroy the Great Mosque, these three come to its rescue.

MrLincolnWayMr. Lincoln’s Way. Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. ©2001, Philomel Books. Ages 6-10. “Mean Gene” is the school bully, calling people terrible names, pushing smaller kids down, and he’s a terrible student as well. Mr. Lincoln, the principal, thinks the young man is “Troubled.” When Mr. Lincoln discovers that Gene is very knowledgeable about birds, a project develops into a friendship that turns a bully into a model citizen. Based on a true story.