Jewels of Elul – Introduction
by Rabbi David Wolpe
(originally posted on Jewels of Elul)
Our sages tell us that the first time Adam saw the sun go down, he was terrified. He had seen day, but had never experienced the night.
God took pity on him and gave him two stones to rub together in order to create fire. The name of one stone was afelah, darkness, and the other maveth, death. As the spark emerged, Adam said, “Blessed be the Creator of light.” Out of darkness and death, the first human being realized that we can create light.
On the High Holidays we think back over the difficulties and even the tragedies that have befallen us in the past year. We have lost people we love, done things we regret, been hurt and saddened by life. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur arrive to remind us that our task in this world is to strike a spark, to carry light in the shadows.
“We work in the dark–do what we can–we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task,” wrote the great novelist Henry James. We all work in darkness, unknowing, uncertain; but if we do what we can, our passion can ignite each other’s souls. Light does not erase difficulty or doubt or even death. But it allows us to seek blessing: Blessed be God, who grants us memory, and gives us light.
David Wolpe at the time of this writing had close to 18,000 followers on Facebook. He is the rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California. www.facebook.com/RabbiWolpe