VORTIFY YOURSELF

From
Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
e-mail yosil@MNSi.net

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PARSHAT B'RAYSHIT

B'rayshit (Genesis) 1:1- 6:8
Haftorah I Samuel 20:18-42
991009


TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF LIGHT IN CREATION

In one of our most beautiful verses of biblical praise, the psalmist sang: "For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light"
(Psalms 36:10).

Light is one of the major themes of the creation story in the Torah. The focus of the first and of the fourth "days" of creation is light: While some sort of does light appear on the first "day," - the sun, moon and stars do not arrive on the scene until the fourth "day." How can this be so?

One possible explanation is that the light in both cases was the same. This was the opinion of some of our rabbis. As the Talmud records: "The sages taught: 'The luminaries were created on the first day, but not suspended [in the heavens] until the fourth day.' "
(Chagigah 12a).

A second plausible interpretation holds that the primeval light of creation is an impenetrable mystery that cannot be known to or by us. This was the position taken by the "elders of the Negev" when Alexander the great asked them:

"Was light created first, or darkness?" They replied, "This question cannot be solved"
(Tamid 32a).

Yet a third explenation maintains that the light of day-One and the light of day-Four are distinct and different from each other.

This third alternative also is present in classic sources. For example, Nachmanides, in commenting upon "and there was light," writes: "...the verse does not say, `And it was so,' as is stated for the rest of the days, because the light did not remain in this [original] state for all time as did the other acts of creation."

The notion that there were (and are) two kinds of light is attractive, persuasive and instructive. The second form of light, the light which eminates from the sun and the stars and is reflected by the moon, has served as a useful tool by which humanity measured and marked time - the days, the months and the years. It is this light that has been probed and studied by science. It is the subject matter of optics. And as a form of radiation it is represented by models of emanating waves and of photon particles. But more than all of this, it is one of creations essentials without which physical being as we know it could not exist.

The primal light however is completely disparate. It is the light of Hashem, which flows from the Divine Spirit into our universe and into our lives. It is a light that cannot be measured, but the effects of which can be known and experienced. It is the subject of religious faith. It is necessary for the very existence of our own spirituality.

Judaism instructs us that we can be bearers of this type of light.

Through attitudes of reverence and respect for Hashem's creation, and by means of acts of caring and compassion for Hashem's creatures, we reflect that Divine Light that has shone in the universe since the beginning. Its intensity and the emergence of the original, spiritual day that emerged out of the darkness depends upon us.

Thus the Torah teaches us that both forms of light - the natural luminescence and the metaphysical radiance -represent in the universe. Both are good. Both illuminate, but in different ways.

May the Light of Torah and the Light of Life-itself both shine and inspire our lives with a radiance and warm glow, that will give us both faith and the tools necessary to participate in Hashem's spiritual and earthly tributes.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig


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