Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Light is Hidden Away for the Righteous Ones

The first day. yom echad "The day of Him Who is One."

Light is Hidden Away for the Righteous Ones

This piece features Rabbi Lawrence Kushner and discusses the purpose of "light" and why we have two creations of light in the first creation story of Genesis 1. It's really a fascinating and cool little animated video. 

Our Sages teach that the original light that was created on the first day of creation was hidden away for the future because this world is not fit to enjoy it. The Zohar explains that that light is all goodness, with no hint of strict justice. Thus, were that light revealed, the world would be so bountiful that mankind would serve Hashem because of the goodness He has given them, and not for the sake of doing mitzvot. This, explains R’ Guntzler, is what the midrash means when it says that Torah scholars are poor--the absence of the light is itself the poverty--so that they will not be distracted from doing mitzvot for their own sake.

The Gemara (Sotah 21a) states: “A sin can extinguish a mitzvah, but it cannot extinguish Torah.” R’ Guntzler explains: A mitzvah is called a “candle,” while the Torah is called “light,” a reference to the hidden light. As noted, that light is all goodness, with no hint of strict justice; therefore, a sin cannot extinguish it.

The Torah uses this phrase (or ki tov) to describe the light that was created on the first day of Creation, when “the Holy One, blessed be He, alone existed in His world,” yachid beolamo. (This was before the eventual creation of the angels. At that time the creation of heaven and earth - for these were created on the first day - took place at a level so sublime that any possibility of two reigning authorities was unthinkable.) Because at that time G-d alone existed in His world, the Torah calls the first day yom echad. This phrase, which ordinarily means “one day,” is also understood by the Sages to mean “the day of Him Who is One.”

Through Torah, Tzaddikim Leap Over Time

What does this really mean?

Concerning “the light which is good” the Sages teach that  “G-d hid it away for the tzaddikim in the Time to Come.” To this the Baal Shem Tov added: “And where did He hide it? - In the Torah.” This means that in the Torah there is now hidden the light that will be present in the Time to Come. Accordingly, by means of the Torah it is possible, even now, to attain a revelation of the light of the Time to Come. [1]


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