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Parshas Bereishis/Noach - The Light Before the Darkness         2 Cheshvan 5782

10/08/2021 08:08:34 AM


Baruch Hashem, we had another action-packed, beautiful Yom Tov season! For the most part everything was pretty much the same routine through the high holidays and into Sukkos. I have been using the same Sukkah for the past thirty years, with some modifications, such as adding a few new decorations, some upgraded lighting, and improving its structure with some new lumber and hardware. My son and I assembled the Sukkah the day after Yom Kippur and had a few days to ensure everything was just right… but it wasn’t. Oddly enough one of my two lights went off and on intermittently and for the life of me I could not understand why. The oddity was that the light would go off, and as I entered the Sukkah the light went back on. Keep in mind these were not new lights. I thought that perhaps there was a bad connection, or perhaps the wiring was compromised. But then I realized the other light worked just fine. This kept me baffled for a few days. As Yom Tov quickly approached, I needed to take stronger action because I could not have the light turn itself  off every time I enter our Sukkah and then turn itself back on during Yom Tov.    

I took a better look at the light fixture, examining it a bit more thoroughly and noticed a little switch and bulb at the end of the four-foot overhead light fixture. Even though I’ve had these fixtures for a few years, it never occurred to me that it might have a motion sensor option. Nowhere on the box which had once contained this light fixture did it claim to have such a feature.  It then hit me that the little bulb looked like it was thinking!  The light bulb in my head turned on causing me to see that it was indeed a motion sensor. The switch next to it must have been flipped, activating the motion sensor. The other fixture remained constantly on because its switch remained off.

At times, each of us has spent hours trying to come up with a solution or an idea when suddenly a cerebral light bulb goes off blaring the answer with crystal clarity. The light bulb idiom applies when one is suddenly struck with an ingenious idea, insight, or revelation. The idea of applying light to a concept is nothing new to the Jewish people;  we are destined to be an “Or Lagola” a light unto the nations. But the concept of light runs far deeper and has lasted much longer than almost anything in history, as referred to last Shabbos and hinted about this coming Shabbos.

In Parshas Bereishis the Torah states in Bereishis 1:3 "ויאמר אלוקים יהי אור, ויהי אור"  “And God said let there be light, and there was light”. Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Spira of Dinov (1783 – 1841),in his work "the Bnei Yisaschar" enlightens us on the word “Or”/ Light. On this verse the Midrash Rabbah Chap.2 quotes a verse from Yeshayahu 41:2 "מִ֤י הֵעִיר֙ מִמִּזְרָ֔ח צֶ֖דֶק יִקְרָאֵ֣הוּ לְרַגְל֑וֹ יִתֵּ֨ן לְפָנָ֤יו גּוֹיִם֙ וּמְלָכִ֣ים יַ֔רְדְּ יִתֵּ֤ן כֶּֽעָפָר֙ חַרְבּ֔וֹ כְּקַ֥שׁ נִדָּ֖ף קַשְׁתּֽוֹ" “Who has roused a victory from the east, summoned him to His service? Has delivered up nations to him, And trodden sovereigns down? Has rendered their swords like dust, Their bows like wind-blown straw? The Midrash indicates this is a reference to Avraham Avinu, but the Midrash also notes that one should not read the word “roused "העיר with an ayin but rather "האיר"  to enlighten with an aleph. The Bnei Yissaschar asks what is the reason that Yeshayahu the prophet did not write it explicitly with an aleph to begin with? He explains that before the original sin of Adam HaRishon, the leather garment or covering Hashem made for Adam was written כתנות אור  with an aleph (light) and only after the sin the word ‘Or’ switched from an aleph to an ayin (leather). It is through the holy and righteous that the sin of Adam HaRishon can be fixed and corrected so that the word Or with an Ayin would have a greater effect and lighten up and shine as the Or. meaning light with an aleph.

Avraham Avinu started to “fix” the sin of Adam HaRishon .Thiswas the beginning of change that the ayin of Or should shine just like the aleph. Therefore, the Navi Yeshayahu wrote the word with an Ayin but it is pronounced as though it were an Aleph.

The Rabbis expound upon the concept that there were indeed three worlds: the world before the flood, the world after the flood and a world within the Teiva, the ark. The world as we know it today has been the same world since the time of Noach when he and his family emerged from the Teiva. Prior to the flood and surely throughout the year of the flood, the world was not the same world we have come to know today.  We also find a light of some kind in the ark. In this week’s parshas Noach, the Torah states in Bereishis 6:16 "צהר תעשה לתבה"  “Make an opening for daylight in the ark”. The simple meaning of Tzohar is the Hebrew version of the Aramaic word Zohar, meaning light. Rashi explains the word Tzohar through giving two explanations; the first discusses a window to let the light in and the second through the example of a jewel whose radiance shed brilliant light into the ark. In both these circumstances something needed to be done, action had to be taken to create such light. Darkness is not necessarily the absence of light; it is rather just intense darkness.. Light was created in the beginning of creation and later during the flood. Hashem saw the darkness of the world after the sin of Adam and Chava and again during the generation of Noach. In both circumstances light was used to change the destructive nature that enveloped the world.

I would like to take some poetic license regarding the light mentioned in both Bereishis within the ayin and aleph and later in Parshas Noach  the mechanism which Noach used to bring light were not necessarily physical. Rather, this light was a change in focus, revealing the wrong that had become part and parcel of society. There is no question in my mind that we, living in this challenging generation, are experiencing nothing less than the darkness that hovered over the world pre-Mabul time. This light is not physical in nature; it is a light distinguishing with clarity between truth and falsehood, goodness and evil, right and wrong. We, the Jewish people,  the Or Lagola, are the light unto the nations. It is our responsibility to light up the world with the basic principles of moral clarity and true social justice. Only with a clear and everlasting, unabated light will darkness no longer pervade the world. Only then will  the world return to the utopian society that was the world pre-mabul. Once we can master keeping the lights on, then we will merit the ultimate light to be witnessed and understood in the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu B’Meirah B’Yameinu! Amen!

Wed, December 8 2021 4 Teves 5782