October 13, 2023
וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־שְׁנֵ֥י הַמְּאֹרֹ֖ת הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים אֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַגָּדֹל֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַיּ֔וֹם וְאֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַקָּטֹן֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַלַּ֔יְלָה וְאֵ֖ת הַכּוֹכָבִֽים׃
God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars.
Across cultures, Light has always been the metaphor for goodness and joy. We pray that those in distress are brought from darkness to light, we call Torah “light”, we have a whole holiday celebrating the hope that one shining flame brings to a moment of darkness.
I say this as we come to a weekend where we feel more darkness than usual. I’m talking of course about the solar eclipse that will take place on Saturday. For a few moments, the shining light of the sun will be blotted out. It used to be that humans thought this was a message from the heavens. We are less superstitious today, though still a lesson can be drawn. The great lights of our time have been dimmed. The blessing of a Jewish state, the blessing of peace, the blessing of safety has all been eclipsed by a shadow of darkness. Our day has turned to night. The estimated amount of time for the sun to return to its full brightness is about three hours. That’s a relatively short amount of time for the sun, a star 109 times larger than earth.
We learn from this that the light in our heart shines brighter than the sun, because three hours is not enough time. How long will it be until this shadow passes and the joy in our hearts returns to full illumination? Weeks? Months? We don’t know. We pray for light and deliverance for Israel, and pray for the strength not to despair on seeing darkness. For this Shabbat we turn upwards towards the heavens not only to pray, but to be reminded that light will shine yet again.
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