By Susan Schwartz
Since the pandemic began, I have found myself spending a lot of time looking out my window. I watch the sky and clouds, the impending weather, the trees that change with each season, the light of the morning sky and the light of the setting sun. I discovered the light of the night, with a full moon that illuminated my room, as we recently replaced our bedroom windows. Our old blinds no longer fit, so until new blinds are installed, we have both sun and moon light shining in.
This week, we begin the annual Torah cycle with the first chapters of the Book of Genesis, Bereishit. We are introduced to light in the very first verses: “God said: Let there be light, and there was light.” (1:3) Creation continues over six days. Each of these days were counted, “and there was evening and there was morning.” In Talmud Shabbat 77b we are taught, “Such is the way of creation: First comes darkness, then light.”
Liturgist and poet Alden Solovy wrote this meditation inspired by the first five verses in Torah:
Before the Beginning
From the place beyond the highest heavens,
Where stillness is motion
And motion is stillness,
Where nothing and everything meet,
Where time and timelessness are one,
G-d imagined a universe
In which existence
Could only begin
Viyhi erev, vivhi voker, yom echad.
And there was
Evening and there was
A first day.
© 2021 CCAR Press from This Precious Life: Encountering the Divine with Poetry and Prayer
We use light to see, to brighten our way, to open our eyes, to awaken ourselves to the world around us. Yet, darkness is also a part of life; it allows us to rest, time to reflect, and to fully appreciate the light. The stars are brightest on the darkest of nights.
Just as daylight illuminates our path so we do not stumble, the light of Godliness, our spiritual awareness, guides us out of the darkness we may feel at times. When I face challenges, I seek the divine by looking for the light of goodness and kindness in others. The creation of light, as well as the world, continues daily. Every day begins anew. We can see God’s light, even in the darkest of times.
Susan Schwartz is Director of Jewish Experience at the Buffalo Jewish Federation.