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Light from Dark


Even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness and light to you are both alike (Psalm 139:12)

Darkness is the ignorance of God. Light is awareness. These are both alike to God because they are how God created. But before there was Creation, Kabbalists teach that all souls were in union with God, albeit unconscious. For souls to choose and know their origin, God had to make room for Creation. God had to withdraw Godself. This withdrawal within Godself is how Kabbalists explain the origin of ignorance: God veiling Godself, creating an apparent separation. From this darkness, Elohim said, Let there be light, and Elohim called it good. By why after separating the expanse on the second day didn’t Elohim say it was good? What happened? Kabbalists teach that the separation of the expanse amplified the darkness. Creation would have reverted back to chaos and void had not Elohim caused ground to appear on the third day—the stability and integration of light and darkness. 

The Test of Power

Our own experience reflects this mystery anytime we begin something new. The transition might often privately trigger painful expectations aroused from the past. Only by the vantage of faith in a bigger picture can we find strength to breakthrough and integrate the past into the present. Something of this same tension is reflected in this moment of our human evolution. While our species has accessed so much material power, we’re clearly struggling with how to consciously manage it. Our world seems to be escalating out of our control. If structures we’ve created seem to have become larger than us, it’s because we alone didn't create them. We’re not alone. Kabbalah’s ancient, metaphysical model of divine, admixed, and demonic entities personify forces and powers that conflict with each other through the good and evil inclinations of our heart. We are the stage of a cosmic conflict of light and darkness. 

Striving with God

For good to assimilate evil, we must strive with God. Hear the subtlety: To strive against our separation from God is to strive alongside God. This is Jacob’s story and it is ours as well. For years, he was on the run from his evil twin brother Esau, who wanted to kill Jacob for swiping the blessing of the firstborn from their father Isaac. Jacob feared his brother's vengeance, most especially the night before their reunion. It is in this context that he wrestled all night with the physical shadow of his brother Esau. Even after the injury of his hip, Jacob held the shadow of Esau to the ground, draining its strength at daybreak. The shadow demanded to be free. Jacob refused: “Not until you bless me.” The shadow of Esau blessed Jacob with a new name: Israel: One who strives with God and prevails. Through his striving with God, Jacob revealed an angel concealed in the shadow of Esau. Only against this resistance could Jacob encounter his destiny as Israel: the name of all of God's people—Jewish and gentile—who strive with God and overcome the ignorance in their heart, to walk aware with, in, and from God.

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