My cousin Rachel lives in Israel with her husband and children. She worked as a nurse for many years, more recently as a midwife. Her husband, Chagai, does reflexology and therapeutic massage. Typical family? Yes, except for the fact that Chagai has been blind for most of his life.

When my husband and I were in Israel, we met Chagai for the first time. It was late Saturday night when the taxi dropped us off in front of my cousin's apartment. We knocked on the door not quite knowing what to expect. I hadn't seen Rachel since we were both small, and wasn't sure what her husband would be like?

I didn't have long to contemplate, as the door swung open almost immediately, and we were greeted with a smile and an enthusiastic 'Shavua Tov'. "You must be my wife's cousins! Come in, sit down!" Chagai directed us to the couch. "Rachel will be with you in a moment. Meanwhile, tell me about Australia. I hope you don't mind if I vacuum the carpet while we talk, I'm just trying to clean up after Shabbat!"

Chagai exhuded a rare joie de vivre, that seemed to sparkle from his sightless eyes, as he spoke and vacuumed. As the evening progressed, the Talmudic expression, Sagi Nahor, came to mind. It is used in reference to the blind, but literally it translates as '(someone with) great light'. Perhaps the blind have the ability to 'see', not in the conventional way, but by a special inner light.

Chagai changed my whole attitude towards situations I had previously thought of as limiting"Do you still have a guide dog?" I asked, knowing he used to have one. "No, he's gone," said Chagai, "Thank G‑d now my children are my guides."

Perhaps that was said in modesty, as he is more guide than guided. When Rachel offered to drive us home, she turned to her husband for precise directions. "How can you know directions, when you've never seen a map?" I asked, incredulous. "I have to know how to get around." He answered simply. "He's my GPS," laughed Rachel.

Chagai changed my whole attitude towards situations I had previously thought of as limiting. Now, instead of looking at them in terms of 'cannot', I look at them as challenges to conquer. The problem may not necessarily be cured, but it does not have to hold you back.

Recently, an Israeli newspaper featured an article about a blind man who influenced the government to pass a law requiring all future money notes to be printed in different sizes to enable the blind to recognize each denomination. The reporter asked the man what enabled him to tackle the usually immutable governing powers. He answered: "My mother taught me that if I want to accomplish something I should just go ahead and do it. Disability? It all depends on your mindset. People see you as you see yourself. I am an optimist. I am capable. If it suddenly starts pouring, you can jump into your car, and you'll be home in fifteen minutes. I'll have to take a bus; sure it will take me longer, but I'll get to the same place as you. You just have to know where you want to go, and head in that direction."

Does the blind man in that article sound familiar? I'm sure you've already figured out that he's my cousin's husband, Chagai.