- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On October 28, 2016
- 0 Comments
Welcome again to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
Here is a Biblical riddle.
In the beginning, as the Torah portion for this week informs us, the earth was unformed and desolate. Darkness covered the abyss and God’s presence hovered over the surface of the water. Then, God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ (Genesis 1:2-3)
But here is what may be puzzling: The sun, moon, and stars do not come into existence until the fourth day. (Genesis 1:14-19)
How could light separate the darkness? How could evening and morning establish the first day if the sun and the moon in the heavens were yet to bring on dawn and dusk?
What is this first light then? And more importantly, where did it go? Jewish tradition teaches that it is hidden.
As we reroll the Torah back to the first portion and consider the creation of the world again in the cycle of our Torah readings, we discover curious possibilities of inquiry.
The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism in the 18th century proposed that God hid that light away in the words of the Torah so that when a person seeks to understand the depths of its meaning through study and investigation, that person will reach a place where the hidden light shines forth in a moment of revelation and awareness. The Haftarah, the prophetic reading for this week, also provides a possible explanation. Isaiah (42:6-7) speaks of light as righteousness, of our sacred obligation to bring light to those deprived of it through acts of compassion and goodness. The Psalmist (97:11) taught a similar idea “Light is sown for the righteous.” Still, it is possible that each of us has a divine spark within our soul. In Proverbs (20:27), it says, “The spirit within is the lamp of God Eternal.” That first light is implanted in our very essence and connects us to what is sacred and eternal.
So, what is the right answer to this Biblical puzzle? The beauty of the Torah is that there is no end to what we might discover.
Where do you think the light is now? Perhaps it is found in the light of Shabbat, in the candles, the warmth of community, and in the chance to stop and become refreshed.
May the light, wherever you may find it, shine for you and through you in beautiful and holy ways.
We hope you will celebrate Shabbat tonight at Qabbalat Shabbat as we warmly welcome our newest rabbi, Jen Gubitz, to our community.
We also encourage you to check out Torah study on Saturday morning. It starts at 9 a.m. with a short, informal morning service and then moves into an engaging, welcoming and inclusive Torah study for everyone and anyone.
I welcome your comments, reflections and thoughts. Connect with me here.