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Eight Lights for Eight Nights: Chanukah 5783- The Hidden Light

12/18/2022 01:16:31 PM


Rabbi Moshe Rudin


In the Torah, the supreme source book of Judaism, light is the very first creation.  And yet… none of us has ever seen it.  This light that we see by -- that is not the first primordial light.  That has been hidden.  Let me share this teaching -- 

This is the story of the Hidden Light;  In the Torah, the Book of Genesis it is written that G-d spoke the world into being through ten utterances.  The very first Words ever spoken into the primordial nothingness were Yehi Ohr -- let there be light.  And G-d saw the light, that it was good. 

But there’s a question.  In Jewish lore, there’s always a question. 

If light was the very first creation, what kind of light was it?  After all, it wasn’t until the fourth day when the sun, moon and stars were created.  What kind of light was the light that was spoken into being? Let there be light… but  Not sunlight, moonlight or starlight.

This is the teaching in the Talmud:

The first light was the light that was so pure, so powerful, so illuminating that Adam and Eve, the first people could see from one end of the world to the other.  The original light of creation revealed all of time and space as one eternal now. 

Just as an artist builds a scaffold to create a mural on the side of a building and then takes the scaffold down when the work is completed, so did the primordial light fade and vanish to make way for our lights; for sunlight and moonlight, for starlight and for candle light, and for dreamlight. 

But that first light is still there -- hidden away.  For when?  The Rabbis say: for a future time when all of us will finally be revealed to each other and finally in partnership, take up the work of creation and repair.  

What is the meaning of this teaching?  Is the primordial light spacetime itself?  The moment of coming into being, exploding into light?  Nothingness into somethingness?  Not-being into being?

That light, the Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism says, is still there, still hidden, concealed in the everyday and the mundane.  But whenever a human being, created in the Divine Image, performs any act of kindness, the hidden light is revealed for a fleeting moment, adding to the ongoing, incremental illumination of a better world, a world that we are called upon to create together. 

The lesson of the eight nights of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights that begins tonight is just this: one candle, one act of love, ignites another and is itself undiminished and that second light can light another and another and another until the ancient light that called forth love from the darkness shines again as it did in the purity of creation. 

G-d said: Let there be light.  This isn’t an ancient event.  It’s a call right now for each of us in our own lives, our own deeds, our own relationships and our own worlds- a call to each of us: let there be compassion, love, understanding, empathy, communication, dialogue:  Y'hee Or - Let there be light.  

Mon, July 15 2024 9 Tammuz 5784