Let There be Light

The story is told of a wealthy man who had three sons. As he was uncertain as to which son he should entrust with the management of his business, he devised a test. He took his three sons to a room which was absolutely empty and he said to each of them, “Fill this room as best as you are able.”

The first son got to work immediately. He called in bulldozers, earth-moving equipment, workmen with shovels and wheelbarrows and they got mightily busy. By the end of the day the room was filled, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with earth.

The room was cleared and the second son was given his chance. He was more of an accountant type, so he had no shortage of paper: boxes, files, archives and records that had been standing and accumulating dust for years and years suddenly found a new purpose. At any rate, it didn’t take long and the room was absolutely filled from floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with paper.

Again the room was cleared and the third son was given his turn. He seemed very relaxed and didn’t appear to be gathering or collecting anything at all with which to fill the room. He waited until nightfall and then invited his father and the family to join him at the room. Slowly, he opened the door. The room was absolutely pitch black, engulfed in darkness. He took something out of his pocket. It was a candle. He lit the candle and suddenly the room was filled with light.

He got the job.

Some people fill their homes with earthiness — with lots of physical objects and possessions which clutter their closets but leave their homes empty. Our cars and clothes, our treasures and toys, all lose their attractiveness with time. If all we seek satisfaction from is the material, we are left with a gaping void in our lives.

Others are into paper — money, stocks, bonds, and share portfolios — but there is little in the way of real relationships. Family doesn’t exist or is relegated to third place at best. On paper, he might be a multi-millionaire, but is he happy? Is his life rich or poor? Is it filled with family and friends or is it a lonely life, bereft of true joy and contentment?

The Wise son knows that to fill an empty space, he needs light. Studying Torah is light. Wrapping teffillin is light. Lighting Shabbat candles brings light. Celebrating Judaism with joy surrounded by families and friends brings light.

But, Friends, we are living in harsh times. AntI semitism is on the rise. Hatred between races is growing. Protests across the country are taking place daily. It’s now up to us to be the wise son who brought light to the world and inspire as many people as we can to be menches.

עולם חשד יבנה, I will build this world with light, kindness and love. כיו יהי רצון, may this be Hashems will.

About the Author
Sam Arnold is a student at North Farmington High School. Being raised a conservative Jew, he has found the importance of Prayer and ritual in his daily life. Sam has studied under Cantor Leonard Gutman of Congregation Shaarey Zedek for four years continuously. He also sits on The Jewish Teen Fund Board through the Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. Finally, Sam works with preschool-7th Grade students helping them connect to their Jewish identity and empowering them through ritual and prayer.
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