Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Tishrei 5761 - October 25, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Who Created the Luminaries

by L. Jungerman

"And Elokim saw the light that it was good, and Elokim made a division between the light and the darkness."

Rashi: Here, too, we require the exegesis of Aggada: He saw that the light was not worth benefiting the wicked and so He set it aside for the righteous in the World to Come.

Is the light provided by the sun and the moon similar to the original light that was cached away, only less intense? Or is it of a different nature altogether? Another form of illumination? What was that special light hidden away for tzaddikim? Was it like the light of the sun, only of much greater magnitude, or was it spiritual, the likes of which we cannot even imagine?

We ourselves express the answer to these questions in our daily prayers, at the completion of yotzer hame'oros, which praises the Creator, Who formed light and created darkness. To Him do we pray, "May You illumine a new light upon Zion and may we all speedily merit its light."

In the Tur, Orach Chaim, siman 59, it is written, "And in Ashkenaz (Germany) it is customary to end this blessing with the text, `As it is written: To the One Who makes the great luminaries; for eternal is His kindness. A new light shall You illuminate upon Zion, and may we all merit its light speedily . . . Blessed . . . Who creates the luminaries.' We do not use this text in Spain. Rashi writes that one should not conclude the blessing with mention of the future light, since this does not relate to the body of the blessing. Chazal arranged this blessing over that light which is renewed every day [which serves mankind in this world] and not over the light of the future world. And my master the Rosh writes in a responsa that the end and the beginning of this blessing do relate to one another and to this present world."

The world proved unworthy of the light which Hashem created in the beginning and which illuminated the world during the first six days of Creation. And, therefore, it was cached away for the righteous in the world to Come. This is the light referred to in "And the nations will walk to your light" (Yeshaya 60). This is also that `new light' which was in-novated during the first week of Creation and which will be renewed for our benefit in the future.

The Rosh teaches us that the blessing of the luminaries in our prayers begins with praise for the creation of that light which was hidden away, and it also closes with a prayer that we merit experiencing the time when this light will be restored to us. In the middle we give thanks for and praise the light of the sun which serves us daily and whereby Hashem illuminates the world and its occupants with mercy. This seems to bear out the fact that the light of the luminaries and the hidden light are intertwined and interrelated.

The Ramban gives us the explanation in our parsha, saying: Chazal mention genizah [hiding away] with regard to the original light of Creation. They maintain that this light was too noble for mankind, too exalted, and was, therefore, divided into two luminaries, see Bereishis Rabba 17:5. The light was nebulated or diffused [partially] into the sun. This world could not bear the potency of that light without an intermediary, a screening, and it was, therefore, hidden away for the righteous in the World to Come but its `nebula' served this world from the fourth day onward.

Sunlight is, therefore, a form of reflection, residue, diffusion. It is a fallout from the original intense light. The Ramban stresses that this world was not worthy; it was incapable of utilizing this source of illumination without diffusion or screening. In other words, the sunlight that does reach our naked eye is beamed from the source of that hidden light, but made opaque through the layers of atmosphere in our world. It is the real thing at its source, yet it reaches our world in less than its full potency.

This is what Midrash Rabba writes (Bamidbor 15): "The sun and the moon shed light upon the world. What is their source of light? Sparks of light from the heavens, as it is written, `From the light of Your arrows as they speed, and at the shining of Your glittering spear' (Chavakuk 3:11). The light above is so intense that creatures cannot bear to see it; only one in a hundred" (a fraction of a percent). [Perhaps an example is the sun during an eclipse, which can only be viewed through smoked glass. Similarly, the tremendous light released during atomic fission or fusion.]

The sun and moon are, therefore, creations which serve as a medium for the illumination of the spiritual light. They are the fallout, the residue of a very mighty spiritual light that penetrates everything, a light that illuminates from one end of the world to the other.

If these luminaries transmit a spiritual light, then they must be spiritual themselves, as well. When the Rambam describes (in Hilchos Yesodei haTorah, chap. 3:9) the orbits of celestial bodies, he writes: "All the stars and spheres are spiritual entities; they have an individual identity which includes mind and intellect, as it were. They are living, existing and cognizant creations which acknowledge their Master Who created them, each one in the measure of its greatness and scope, each praising and glorifying their Creator, just like the angels." In a letter of R' Chasdai, the Rambam writes that the spheres themselves (galgalim) possess a spirit and consciousness and recognize and know their Creator.

In writings of the Rambam quoted in Beis Hamedrash, Maran HaGaon R' Shach shlita writes: "This is wherefore we say the blessing, `Who by His saying He created the heavens and with the breath of His mouth all of their legions. They rejoice and exult to do the bidding of their Creator.' We see thus that they do possess a living spirit. This also confirms what Dovid Hamelech said, `Day unto day pours forth speech,' which refers to the sun. `And night unto night proclaims knowledge,' which refers to the moon. This shows that they possess a spirit. But we must not delve into it."

Neither can we understand these concepts. It is important for us to know how to look at these matters, especially in this age of modern science which aims to understand the workings of the heavens and the celestial forces. We must realize that the sun is not merely an orb of fire providing us with light and heat, nor is the moon merely a celestial body exerting gravitational pull upon the earth. Light is a spiritual creation! And the sun and moon are spiritual entities which constitute a medium to channel to us the glow of an intensely brilliant light, the `wake' of an extremely potent incandescence so powerful that nothing can withstand its might. A light which enables vision from one end of the world to the other. How? We do not know.

Nor do we ask . . .

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