The Hidden Light: It seems an oxymoron. Light shines and reveals what is hidden. How can a light be hidden, and where might we find it again?

According to the Torah, light was created on Day One of Creation, but the sun and other heavenly luminaries were not created until the Fourth Day. To explain this discrepancy, Midrash and Talmudic lore identify the original light of Day One as a primal spiritual light that illuminated the cosmos (Talmud Bavli Chagigah 12a), long before the heavenly bodies were called into being. But people were not yet deserving of this pure light, so it was hidden away (Ohr HaGanuz) for the righteous in the future.

Where to find that hidden light? Here are some suggestions from tradition:

In Torah: According to mystical sources (the Zohar Chadash 85a, the Baal Shem Tov), the primal light was hidden in the Torah. Thus each time we learn Torah–in its broadest sense, any of our sacred texts and teachings–we have the opportunity to illuminate our world with spiritual light. Have you had this experience when learning Torah or when learning in general?

For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah is light. –-Proverbs 6:23

In Holy Deeds: In Kabbalistic thought, by doing a mitzvah we can raise divine sparks to their source. In addition, every human soul is a divine lamp (Proverbs 20:27), so when we do something to help a person physically or spiritually, we are increasing the divine light. Perhaps the more hidden the good deed, the greater the hidden light can be sensed.

Some say that the hidden light remains in the Garden of Eden, awaiting the Messiah. In modern terms, this hints that with each act of restoring our planet, our natural Garden of Eden, the hidden light is polished and shines a bit more brightly, bringing us closer to the Messianic Era, the world as it should be.

In Prayer and Meditation: For me, one meaning of the hidden light is the light on the inside that I sense during prayer. Years ago, I learned from Rabbi Laibl Wolf to do a meditation on Ohr Hashem, the Divine Light, breathing it in to my heart, imagining that light spreading to fill my entire body with healing and love. Subsequently, one day I was praying with a friend of mine who suffers from a chronic illness. I held her hand as I said a spontaneous prayer in English with and for her. As we prayed, my closed eyes were filled with a kind of ring of warm, pulsing, radiating light and I felt my body and soul suffused with a tangible, peaceful and calming glow. She, too, felt more relaxed and peaceful. Since then I began to receive that sense of light into my prayers, whether prayers for someone’s healing, or any type of prayer or meditation. By spending time each day in meditation and prayer, we can nurture our inner light.

“If you pray and offer a blessing to God, or if you wish your intention to be true, imagine that you are light. All around you. . .is light. . .this light is unfathomable and endless.” –from Sha’ar Ha-kavannah, attributed to Azriel of Gerona, Spain, 13th Century translated in The Essential Kabbalah–The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, Daniel C. Matt, p. 110


Consider and Comment: Where do you find your inner light?

Featured image of sunlight on a misty morning at Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Julie Danan

Continue to learn a Midrash about hidden light, or return to the Gateway of Light.