We close our eyes often. Sometimes it’s because we’re scared and sometimes we close them from pain. Whether we’re squinting to see something or whether we’re sleeping, our eyes instinctively close.
Why do we close our eyes?
Rebbe Nachman teaches something very deep in Torah 65. He explains that our vision services our mind. Whatever we see is processed in our brains and becomes our knowledge. Another way of saying “I understand” is saying “I see”.
But sometimes our vision is too limited and we need to ‘see’ past what our minds can understand. In times of suffering, God forbid, we need to attach ourselves to a higher knowledge. When we’re scared of inevitable pain we automatically try to connect to something more infinite than what we know. This is why we close our eyes. We innately know that the only way to bear the agony is by shutting out this world and attaching our minds to the end, where we really believe that it’s all good. In that elevated state of mind there is no pain. This isn’t a place that we can stay too long, but indeed it’s a place we go.
Similarly when we squint to see something, we’re shutting out the peripherals that flood our vision and confuse our mind. And when we sleep our eyes close because our souls are connecting to the infinite (Lessons 54 & 7).
I find this idea to be amazing! Of course the naysayers will poo-poo it, but I see in this teaching one of the few instances where our souls control our bodies.
Maybe this is the reason why we close our eyes when we say Shma Yisroel? Because when we’re declaring Hashem’s oneness we must see past everything. Our worldly perceptions bring us down to a place where we question His oneness often. “Why is this happening to me”? Or “this is terrible”! But when we declare His oneness we’re trying to reach a higher understanding so we close our eyes and soar!