I am suffering from a progressive eye disease I am slowly losing my vision and the doctors don’t know how much time it will be until I lose my sight completely. I wanted to know if there is a reason Hashem gives people physical handicaps if our job in this world is to serve him and the handicap makes it impossible to perform certain aspects of avodas hashem. Also, as I am losing my vision, I have lost the ability to read. I know I need to daven but I feel like that was robbed from me. And now facing this terrifying reality what should a person do if they can’t daven formally? Is that then going to be a lack of zechusim? How do these things work? Also, what is the Torah outlook on those with a disability?
This sounds terribly difficult, and terrifying, and my sympathies are with you. Just the thought of a person losing their sight is a very difficult pill to swallow, Hashem should help that it shouldn’t happen, and if it does have to happen, it should take a very long time so that you should have your sight as long as possible. If you would like me to daven for you, please send me your name and your mother’s name.
Regarding your questions, you are right, Hashem created us in order to serve Him, and sometimes Hashem wants us to do avodas Hashem specifically with a certain difficulty. In fact, the Midrash (Avos D’rabi Nosson 3-6) says that a person that performs a mitzva with difficulty gets 100 times the reward as a person who doesn’t have that level of difficulty. Therefore, whatever you will be able to daven, you will be earning 100 times the reward as everyone else. On the other hand, whatever you are physically not capable of performing, you are exempt from that.
On a practical level though, you should still be able to daven formally, part of the davening you should know by heart, and B”H nowadays there are siddurim in Braille. (There is someone that sits not far from me in the Mirrer Yeshiva that uses such a siddur.)
Regarding the Torah’s outlook to disabilities, or course it is easy to talk when a person doesn’t have the difficulty. However, what we see in the mussar seforim is that every person’s neshoma is sent to this world with a specific job that has to be accomplished. Very often, the job is in the area of what this specific person’s neshoma needs in order to perfect itself. Every person has a different job than anyone else, because each person’s job is specifically what only that neshoma can accomplish. Everyone has nisyonos, some people’s nisayon is with family issues, other’s it is with financial issues, and others have physical issues. Why exactly does each person have their specific situation we don’t know, and the answer to that question e will not find out until after we get to the world of truth, (and we aren’t in a rush to find out).
Rabeinu Bachya (Deutoronomy 22-8) brings an eye-opening, life changing Midrash, that has potential to help all of us though all of our difficulties. The Midrash that before a person’s neshoma is sent down to this world, it is shown exactly ALL of the difficulties that it will go through. If it will be rich or poor, all the tribulations and situations that it will go through, and even exactly how it will exit this world. After it is shown all of this, it is asked, do you agree to all of this? Then (and knowing what the purpose of its life, its job etc.) the neshoma happily agrees, and only after that does the neshoma come down to this world!! Therefore, not only does G-d know the purpose of our difficulties, but we also knew their purpose, and how it is beneficial to us.
Right now, that we don’t know the reason for the difficulty that is being placed upon us, we have to strengthen our emuna, that Hashem knows what He is doing, and He feels that although it is terribly difficult for us, it is still in our best interest.
I once heard from a prominent speaker (who brought proof to what he was saying from a gemora) that when techiyas hameisim will happen all of the disabled people will first come alive with their disabilities, and then the very disabilities that they had will turn into assets. For example, a person who was lame will be re-created with his old feet, and then Hashem will change them into super strong ones. The same with people who can’t see, they will be given super strong eyesight.
Again, may Hashem send you a refuah shleima, and the strength to deal with your difficulties.