“Va-yar Elohim et ha-Or.” God created light, saw the light, and said the light was good. The prophet Isaiah carries this theme of light into our future: God instructs us as a people to become a light unto the nations: To not only see light, but BE light.
We are told that at age one hundred twenty, Moses remained vigorous, with eyes undimmed. At age 70, my eyesight has been surgically undimmed, but some members of my family say my hearing is diminished. Perhaps not. Forty-five years ago, with undiminished hearing I heard a call, the call, but did not follow through. Five years ago I heard it again – clearly and persistently. I followed through and responded by entering the Aleph Ordination Program. And on January 9, I accepted the holy deployment of Rabbinic Pastor. It informs the purpose of my third act: To aid those struggling with darkness. To help people see their way in the dark and find their way back into the light.
וַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת־הָא֖וֹר כִּי־ט֑וֹב וַיַּבְדֵּ֣ל אֱלֹהִ֔ים בֵּ֥ין הָא֖וֹר וּבֵ֥ין הַחֹֽשֶׁךְ׃
Va-yar Elohim et ha-or ki tov, v’yavdel Elohim Ben ha-or, uven hachoshech.
God saw that light is good, and then separated the light from the darkness. Light gives enlightenment, contrasting the positives of light with our negative associations of dark. But dark is not negative. Dark is the vessel that contains light. Our mission is to celebrate both, and then to shine the light of Torah every time we make moral choices, every time we create Tikkun- healing and repair. Our job is to share the light of freedom, justice, faith and generosity.
Today it is easy to see the world as increasingly dark and perilous. That can be frightening. In the dark we imagine monsters. This year, it has taken very little imagination. We hear words we never expected to hear. “Another contagious variant. Cave syndrome. Zoom fatigue. Isolation. Insurrection. Increasing antisemitism.”
Some days I long to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head, and hide from the darkness, — But there, under those covers, it is also dark! And what about that darn light? what about our mission?
We are taught that there is powerful light that cannot be physically seen. This is the “or ganuz” – the hidden light that seems to emanate from an unknown place, and enables us to see other than just physical things. So I get out of bed to find that light —to see and BE the light. We must all discover and shine that light around us. Then we find not only joy in the good and beauty in of all creation but also moral courage to persevere in spite of any obstacles.
זֶה־הַ֭יּוֹם עָשָׂ֣ה יְהֹוָ֑ה נָגִ֖ילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָ֣ה בֽו
Zeh hayom asah Adonai, nagilah v’nisme-cha voh. This is the day God has made. Let us rejoice and exalt in it. This is the day. Every day is THE day. We must be grateful every day, for each opportunity our lives offer to see and be that light. Seize the opportunity. Catch the light. Shine it out. Share the light. Be the light of Torah.