Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Does G-d Need Light ?


The very first documented part of creation was light (see Bereshis 1:3). Hashem does not need light to see, nor is he afraid of the dark. So why, then, did He create light first ?
Because light is the most important.
The light that was created wasn't the same as what we have now either. The Kli Yakar maintains that the sun, moon and stars are all just derivatives of that ephemeral light.
What was the nature of the source, the original illumination that was so important that Hashem wanted to create it first ? That first light is the ability to tell right from wrong.
Until Hashem created a world there was no need to have an external barometer of morality since there was nothing external to G-d. As soon as He introduces anything else – the first thing we're going to need is a moral compass; an ability to discern, to differentiate right from wrong. That ability is called light.
That's why light helps us see. Because the first step in determining what is correct and what isn't is properly sizing up that which in front of you.
But that first light was hidden away (see Bereshis 1:4 and Rashi ad loc.) The commentators all deal with the question of where the light was stashed. Some maintain that it was buried away, only to be revealed at the end of days. Others discuss the safeguarding of that light in the Torah, where it still resides today. In any case, there is one more place that the light may be.
In our actions.
Every thing we do has the ability to illuminate or darken, clarify or confuse. When we do the right thing, our world becomes a drop clearer. If we fail - the fog of confusion gets a mite thicker.
This Channukah let us celebrate the choice of those heroic Jews of long ago; the choice to do what's right no matter the consequence. Actions and dedications that inspire us with their light, even after all these years. Let us also ask ourselves : What confusion surrounds us today and how can we make the right choices and step into the light ?
Happy Channukah !

Friday, December 07, 2012

Climbing and Standing

"... והנה קמה אלומתי וגם ניצבה" [בראשית לז:ז]
Yosef Hatzaddik describes his prophetic dream to his brothers in attempt to convince them of his divinely appointed role. The dream consists of bundles of wheat (which represent his brothers) all paying subservience to Yosef's bundle. In demonstrating his bundles supremacy, Yosef says that his bundle has risen and is standing. Why the repetition ?
The Koznitzer Maggid (as quoted in the Shem MiShmuel) ascribes to Yosef the same accomplishments that are described by Dovid Hamelech in Tehillim. "Who will ascend the mountain of Hashem and who will rise in His holy abode" (Tehillim 24:3)
Here we see that there are two components of spiritual success. The first; 'Ascending the mountain' – or engaging in pursuits that elevate your personal level of holiness (i.e. Torah study, performance of mitzvos, etc.). The second – maintenance. As is implied in the passuk in Tehillim "מי יקום במקום קדשו" – the word for rise can also be read as a derivative of "קיים" or existent. Dovid Hamelech is praising both facets of loftiness; accomplishment and tenacity.
Why would Yosef see fit to mention these two factors in the dream ? To tell his brothers that this wasn't just a passing fancy, that he foresees his position of authority enduring for the long haul.
And what can we learn from this ? that this is the mark of one who is righteous. (Yosef is known as Hatzaddik – the righteous one) Anyone can grow – a truly righteous person holds on to the gains they have made and incorporates them to go the distance.

Hatzlacha !