Jewels of Elul – Let There be Light

by Tamar Elad-Appelbaum
(Originally posted on Jewels of Elul)


It was dawn. My mother and I watched silently as the sun rose on a new day, the seventh day of my brother’s Shiva. My brother, Nadav Elad, had been an IDF soldier in one of the elite units of the paratroopers.

We should have hated the sun, lighting up a world that seemed so broken to us now. Yet my mother gently laid her eyes on the view unfolding through the light, and with deep gratitude gave thanks for its existence. Light, she said, had witnessed Nadav’s presence in this world, as we have. And so now we are partners, holding his memory together and testifying that he had lived under the sun.

“Through which part can a person see? From within the black of the eye” taught our ancestors. The art of light is our ability to see through darkness. Eye, Ayin in Hebrew, is where we meet Oni, the poverty of this world. But it is also where we meet Aniah, the answers to it. Through darkness we see the edge of light, through brokenness the edge of vision. We pray for us and for our human community as a whole that our eyes penetrate reality and beyond it see a new horizon.

It was dawn. Hugging, my mother and I thanked God for the light He brought upon us, now lighting the pathways where Nadav had lived. That day, God’s words “Let there be light” that had illuminated a universe, traversed the darkness and illuminated us, creating a new world within us, a reason to live, to love. The sun came out upon our heads as we joined our voice to the eternal One forever whispering through all the alleys of existence. We whispered for my brother’s soul, for every human soul: Let there be light.

Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum is Associate Dean of the Schechter Rabbinic Seminary in Jerusalem.

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