In a world marked by division and conflict, the wisdom of the Torah has the power to serve as a guiding light in this dark hour. The devastating and homicidal terror attacks in Israel have shaken the very foundations of the Jewish community. The refrain of “Never Again” has been fatally edited. The word “never” has been deleted, and now the Jews pay by the word — with their blood. We look into each other’s faces for answers and comfort only to find reflections of our own anguish, grief, and fear. But now, however regretful of the reason, we are looking at each other as family, as fellow Jews, and not turning a cold shoulder, not demonizing the other. A nation that was becoming ever divided has united again in common purpose. And in that unity, we are already beginning to see the light. Israel, the Jewish people, and the Torah are one. Disqualify any pieces, and the entirety is fractured and vulnerable.
The opening chapter of Genesis recounts the creation of our world in six days which evolved from disorder to order, from darkness to light. “And G-d saw the light, that it was good; and G-d divided between the light and between the darkness.” It reminds us that, even in pitch blackness when chaos seems to prevail, there is a Divine plan at work that is aiming for the light, wanting the light, preserving the light. But the work is left no longer for God alone to do. We must play our parts too. In a fractured, evil world, our primary mission is to fill it with light. That light is found in the Torah.
Jews are destined to be a light among the nations. Well, what exactly do we have that can light the way? Is our DNA fluorescent? What we have is the holy Torah that is the torch for humanity. But too many of us have shoved the Book on the shelf. We are too cool and too modern for God. Too busy, too ambitious, too practical, too important, too rich, too gorgeous. But every time we forget we are Jews, while mistaking ourselves for whatever else, our enemies successfully remind us.
In this week’s Torah reading, God says, “Let us make man.” Who is the “us”? We are the “us”; we are the partners in creating ourselves. This week the world has changed forever. The future of humanity is being reset; What will we emerge as out of this chaos? What will we make of man. The world is currently in a war between good and evil; compassion and hatred; light and darkness. We have, perhaps, our last chance to get it right.
The truth is we are a people who glow in the dark. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai after receiving God’s word, his face was illuminated with Divine light. The Torah can change our DNA –Epigenetics has revealed that DNA is not static but can undergo modifications and changes — and all of us can glow by keeping the mitzvot in the Torah. But if we ignore our duty as Jews once more, we will surely be submerged in spiritual darkness, in tunnels of darkness. We are being dragged underground, but that is not where the light is.
All religions believe that we are reaching or living through messianic times. Now is the time to get it right. Life will never go back to what it was; a new age is upon us. We can’t hide in Netflix or Prime Video anymore. Because the darkness is coming for us all, and it’s imperative to choose which army you are fighting for. Iron domes, missiles, tanks; wonderful to have, but they will not save us. “The Lord is a master of war; the Lord is His Name.” And He is the General we must count on. We have to attach ourselves to His light, the only light. Like Victor Hugo once wrote, “They confound the brilliance of the firmament with the star-shaped footprint of a duck in the mud.”
Take upon yourselves to do a mitzvah, the real brilliance, not the mud. Be proud to be a Jew. We’ve tried it our own stubborn way over and over again, and the result is the same every time. An enemy emerges, and we say: “Here we go again.” Well, Einstein said that repeating the same thing and expecting a different result is insanity. It’s time to see the light, be the light, and share the light. Or, we will find ourselves in a never-ending night. If we don’t live by the word, we will die by the sword.