April 20, 2024 /

Light Leaks – January 2024

As I write to you, I hear the words of many that are commenting on how dark the world feels. What is old news for you but fresh for me is hearing that there was a disturbance on the Rutgers campus caused by Students for Justice in Palestine that caused Rutgers to close the club. This comes directly on the foot heals of Liz Magill’s resignation as President of UPenn after her horrendous comments about calls for genocide not necessarily counting as harassment at a congressional hearing. Many of us, for the first time, feel like it might not be safe to express our Judaism out in public. So we ask, how do we move forward and create the world we wish to live in, the world we wish to hand on to our children?

I find the answer embedded in a poem by Alden Solovy, an American Israeli liturgist and poet, he writes:

Light Leaks
In the darkest dark,
With a sky full of stars,
As the Milky Way
Arches across the heavens,
My heart remembers
The moment of Creation.

Light cannot be concealed,
Not even by God,
Not even that special light
Reserved only for the righteous.
It leaks out from the vaults of heaven
Into the words of Torah
To guide our way.

The light is yours,
When you seek it with your heart.
The heart that’s inside your soul,
The heart that’s inside your breathing,
The heart that’s inside your being.

In the brightest brightness,
In a day full of light,
As the sun travels
Across a full-moon sky,
My heart remembers
God’s blessings.

He wrote this poem when thinking about the phrase for the story of creation where God says, “Let there be light!” We need light in our lives right now, but we also need to remember where light can emanate from. What we are reminded in this poem is that light comes from our tradition, from our Torah, which serves as a guiding star and that it also comes from us. It comes from us when we use our tradition to guide our lives, when we come together as a community to support one another, and when we put beauty into this world.

When presented with fear and concern there is a desire to run away and hide. To be protective and withdraw ourselves. But to me, that only means we are hiding our light and when we do that, then we enable a space for darkness to creep in. If we truly wish to build a safer, brighter, beautiful world, then we need to be present in that world. We need to show up for one another and the larger community, and we need to embrace our Torah and our heritage. I want to encourage each of you, in this new year, to make a resolution of doing more acts of G’milut Chasadim, Tzedakah, and Tikkun Olam to help transform this world of brokenness into the world we long for. A world of peace and plenty, a world of wholeness and beauty.