וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־שְׁנֵ֥י הַמְּאֹרֹ֖ת הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים אֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַגָּדֹל֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַיּ֔וֹם וְאֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַקָּטֹן֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַלַּ֔יְלָה וְאֵ֖ת הַכּוֹכָבִֽים׃
God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule by day and the lesser light to rule by night, and the stars.
The Torah depicts Sun and Moon being created together on the Fourth Day* of Creation. But the Midrash, an ancient genre that includes imaginative “back stories” of the Torah, depicts a legendary struggle for dominance in which the moon wanted to have a greater role.
The midrash about the Moon’s diminishment in the previous post did not remain static over the centuries, but was reinvented to reveal new meanings. Explore the changing face of this ancient legend in depth, through this fascinating article by Melila Hellner-Eshed, the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. It’s a bit longer than most of our pathways, but well worth the read.
‘Of What Use is a Candle in Broad Daylight?’ The Reinvention of a Myth
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? (more…)
Rabbi Joshua of Sachnin said in the name of Rabbi Levi, “To what should we compare the Tent of Meeting [that Moses set up in the desert]? To a cave on the seashore. When the tide rises and the sea floods the cave, the sea is not diminished. Thus the Tent of Meeting was filled with the Shechinah (the Divine Presence).”
ר’ יהושע דסכנין בשם ר’ לוי למה היה אוהל מועד דומה למערה שהיא נתונה על שפת הים ועלהים והציף המערה נתמלאת מן הים והים לא חסר כך אוהל מועד נתמלא מזיו השכינה
–MIdrash, Pesikta de-Rav Kahana, 1b
There are many Jewish mystical concepts and doctrines that center on the metaphor of light. Classic Kabbalistic works often have names that focus on light, such as Sefer Ha-Bahir (the Book of Brightness) or the Zohar (the Brilliance). Ohr Ein Sof (Infinite, “Never-ending” Light) is the name for the divine light that emanated from the Ein Sof (the Infinite Godhead) at creation.
Picture the splitting of the Reed (or Red) Sea. Based on the movie versions, we tend to visualize Moses raising his staff, so that the waters part instantly—supernatural special effects! But the Torah (Exodus 14:21), offers a more naturalistic depiction of the miracle, one that involves wind: (more…)
by Rabbi Fern Feldman
The Zohar imagines the process of creation as a flowing forth from a deep spring or well.
by Rabbi David Seidenberg
Hanukkah (Chanukah) is about darkness as much as light. Rabbi David Seidenberg teaches about the necessary interaction of the two in a mystical celebration of the holiday: