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Fighting Darkness G-d's Way

Friday, 29 April, 2022 - 1:32 pm

In the beginning of G-d’s creation of Heaven and Earth, the earth was desolate and dark, and the divine spirit hovered above the waters. And G-d said “Let there be light, and there was light.”

Darkness is not new. It’s been part of our world’s narrative from the very beginning - and the first recorded divine action in the Torah is the fact that G-d created light.

Light and darkness are not two opposites of the same realm. If they were of the same kind, logic would dictate that one would need an equal amount of one to cancel out the other. But everyone knows this is not true. In a vast space filled with utter darkness one needs to only shine a single light and much of it will go away.

Light and dark are metaphors for good and evil and the opening narrative of our Torah teaches us all we need to know about battling every type of darkness. Identifying it is a start but fighting it on its terms is futile. The only way to banish darkness is G-d’s way, by introducing light.

A great sage once offered the following analogy. Three men were imprisoned in a dungeon and food was thrown down to them from the opening on top. In the pitch-black darkness it was very difficult to eat the food. Two of them managed to work it out while the third, no matter how hard he tried, could not find a way to eat. He sat and wailed from hunger while one of his fellow prisoners worked unsuccessfully to help him out. After a while he called out to the third prisoner and asked why he wasn’t helping their poor friend learn how to eat in the darkness to which he responded, “Fool, I’m trying to find a way out of this place!”

In the intended lesson both of them were wrong. Learning to live with the darkness is defeatist and trying to escape the inescapable is unrealistic. Bringing light into the darkness is the way to go.

The opening words of this week’s parsha reference the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, the two eldest sons of Aharon the High Priest. During the inauguration of the Tabernacle these lofty and sensitive souls were so overwhelmed by the divine revelation, their souls expired from their bodies. G-d warned Aharon and the rest of us that the saintly Nadav and Avihu are not to be emulated.

Although their deaths resulted from their overwhelming desire to be holy through escaping the coarse mundaneness of the physical world, G-d wants us to become holy through illuminating the dark world by introducing more light, not by escaping from it.

This happens when we do Mitzvot in this physical world. As Maimonides famously declared, every individual must view the world as equally balanced between good and evil. One single positive action, one positive spoken word and even a good thought can tip the balance and bring salvation to the world with the arrival of Moshiach who will rid our world of the age-old darkness of hatred, jealousy and apathy and usher in an era of global peace and tranquility for all.


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