Featured photo: "Sunset" by Laurence Louis, via Flickr Learn about "Dark Nights of the Soul" in the Torah, or teturn to the Gateway of Darkness
We tend to equate light with good and darkness with bad. But darkness is the inseparable partner of light; indeed, we cannot see one without the other. Our modern world is lit up 24 hours a day; even when we turn off the lights at bedtime, our homes glow with blinking lights from our various electronic devices. We need dark nights as much as sunny days, to maintain our circadian rhythms, allow us rest and promote our health.
On a spiritual level, we may fear darkness because it symbolizes times of struggle or even despair. Yet we know from life experience that it is often those dark times of life that forge our greatest growth.
Conversely, darkness may be a gift, inviting us to restfulness, inwardness, intimacy. Natural beauty, art, and aesthetics require a balance of light and shadow. Modern theologians of many faiths are recognizing that darkness is just as necessary to our growth as light.
God “forms light and creates darkness” (Isaiah 45:7, quoted in the traditional Jewish morning prayers). Indeed, according to the Torah’s account of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, darkness exists before light is created. There is evening before there is morning, and so all Jewish holy days begin with sunset and not with sunrise.
So head out into the night and explore this Gateway of Darkness to explore the symbolism of darkness and night in Jewish Tradition and in your own life.
Choose your favorite Pathway, or follow them in order:
Ambiance: Forest at Night
Dark Nights of the Soul
Many pivotal biblical encounters with the Divine take place during the darkness of night, when dreams, blessings and visions are imparted. and one of the most important is when our forefather Jacob wrestles with a mysterious stranger. Jacob (Ya'akov) was left alone....
You Want it Darker, by Leonard Cohen
Enter the darkness of the human experience in the powerful music of Leonard Cohen, of blessed memory, from his last album, interspersed with the Hebrew word, "Hineni," here I am, and words from the Kaddish, "Magnified and Sanctified." Continue to learn about facing...
Enter the Darkness to Greet the Dawn
Can we face the darkness of our own depths? Individuals and societies who can't face their own shadow side will often project it on others. A fairly literal translation of Genesis 1:2 would be: The earth was unformed and void -- and darkness on the face of the...
Song: Evening the Evenings
"Evening the Evenings" by Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael Based on the traditional Evening Prayer Featured Image: Sunset in Chobe National Park, Botswana, Elisheva Danan Explore the Darkness Before Creation with Rabbi Fern Feldman, or return to the Gateway of...
The Darkness Before Creation
When I explore my own nature, or experience the sacred, most often I feel a deepening into darkness. Although dominating theologies create binaries, in which light is good and darkness is evil, when we recognize the multivalent nature of all that is, we see wave upon...