B'reshit/Genesis - Pushing Back the Darkness




B'reshit is probably one of the parshas that we all know best. God creating the world in 6 days and resting on the 7th; Adam and Eve; Cain and Abel... The themes have been well-trod by everyone from Joseph Campbell to Shakespeare to Milton to the Moshav Band. I'm not sure I have much to add.

Except for this.

God did not create darkness. "He" created (or separated) the heaven and the earth, and when the separation occurred, the earth was without form and empty...but there was darkness on the face of the depths. And God's spirit moved over the face, through the darkness, before "He" created light.

א  בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ.1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
ב  וְהָאָרֶץ, הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ, וְחֹשֶׁךְ, עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם; וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים, מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם.2 Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.
ג  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר.3 And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light.
ד  וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאוֹר, כִּי-טוֹב; וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים, בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ.4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
ה  וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם, וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה; וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם אֶחָד.  {פ}5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.{P}

Darkness is something real in our mythology. In the ma'ariv prayer, we speak of God rolling back the light before darkness and the darkness before light.

The latest mass shooting in America took place this past week in Oregon. President Obama said these had become "routine," and he is so, so right. We've all been here before)breaking news, panicked interviews, speculation, confirmation, candlelight vigils. memorial montages and collages, a nonsensical NRA response, the mental health red herring, it's too soon, don't politicize it, do something. For God's sake, do something.

And now we're at the part of the story when the shouting back and forth reaches the same old chant:
Bullets into Flowers. Create Peace.

It's the guns!
It's not the guns!
It's the guns!
It's not the guns!

It's the guns, and it's the darkness. For all of these angry, rage-filled, annihilators, darkness is real. Their view of the world is so warped and twisted and depraved there is no room for light.

They are consumed with darkness, surrounded by darkness, and they feel the darkness as palpable, perhaps much like the Egyptians did when darkness was released as a plague among them. It bleeds into every part of them and escapes as a hail of bullets on their perceived enemies -- those who are in the light.

They prepare themselves for the post-massacre media blitz by taking selfies with their weapons, writing 'manifestos', making confessional videos and amassing arsenals. In life they feel ignored; In death they are notorious. Even if they won't always be remembered, their crimes will. Their darkness spreads to their victims. the murdered, the injured, the families, the schools, the communities, the state, the nation, the world.

What will push back this darkness?
What is the light that will roll into its place?
And who can create it?

I don't have an answer, and I suspect that every person's darkness needs its own unique push-back. One size does not fit all, and some darkness may be too deep to penetrate. We are not gods.

But we can, as God did, create light with our words, and we can bathe in the light of the words of others.

After Sunday School this morning, Ellie and I had our own "Torah Talk." She asked why God had to rest on the 7th day if He created everything by speaking. What's so tiring about that?

As a writer, I had to laugh. If only "creating with words" were that easy.

And as a human being, I know it can be very difficult to create light with our words. "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me" is an outright lie. I don't know about you, but all my bruises from the sticks and stones have healed, but the sting of cruel words, the darkness, can be recalled (and sometimes re-felt) on demand.

Words create, and they are can be powerful weapons or powerful balms.

May we all be blessed to use our words to create light,
to help roll back someone else's darkness or our own. 


And there was evening, and there was morning. One day.

"Pillars of Creation"
Photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula, some 7,000 light years from Earth.They are so named because the gas and dust are in the process of creating new stars, while also being eroded by the light from nearby stars that have recently formed.










2 comments:

Mordechai Harris said...

Interesting post I enjoyed reading it. However i have to disagree with your initial premise as it states in the navi Yeshiyahu 45:7 יוֹצֵ֥ר אוֹר֙ וּבוֹרֵ֣א חֹ֔שֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂ֥ה שָׁל֖וֹם וּב֣וֹרֵא רָ֑ע אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה עֹשֶׂ֥ה כָל־אֵֽלֶּה׃

TheWriter said...

Mordechai -- we all have that spark of light in us, don't we? We should share it if we can, even if the original source it outside of ourselves.