Light and Dark

In our most trying times, we must always strive to see the light.

Rabbi Nachman wrote:

Inevitably you must encounter all kinds of difficulties and setbacks. You will fall down many times before you can enter the gates of holiness. Even the greatest Tzaddikim have gone through all this. There are cases when a person is already at the gate of holiness, only to slide back because of these difficulties. When a person is close to the gate, the forces of evil try to prevent him from entering. This pushes some people into retreat. That is the way of the Evil One: when he sees a person literally at the gates, he attacks more powerfully than ever. That is why you need to be so strong.

Likutei Moharan II, 48

Life has a strange way of throwing curve balls, hiccups, traumas, disasters, and all manner of calamities. We must all contend with one battle or another at any, and possibly every, point in life, and this is, sadly, the way of the world.

And yet, each pitfall, each encounter we have is an opportunity to get another glimpse of God. While our eyes may not readily see the light, there it is, just beneath the surface, on the other side of the negative. These alternating shades of dark and light in our lives, this revolving pattern of good and evil, is all part of the chiaroscuro of our ultimate masterpiece: ourselves.

Our souls are a constant work. We must do what we can to cultivate that still small voice, so that it is no longer a small voice, but a roar, a loud cry into the void. That void is our physical being, with all its needs and wants. The purest, inmost part of us must overpower the outer layers of complaints, greed, lust, anger.

This is our mission in life: to prepare ourselves for God, the culmination of everything. And, in the words of our fathers, “If not now, when?” Though we stand at the gate of holiness, wavering, traipsing back and forth, peering in, stepping back – we must not fear, for we know Hashem, our God, is on the other side. Though the Evil One may do everything in his power to prevent us from crossing that threshold, we know that through God we have infinite strength. Though we may feel alone in the world, isolated, so distant from everyone and everything, we know with certainty that we are not alone.

In the words of King David:

Hashem is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?

Hashem is the strength of my life, whom shall I dread?

Psalm 27:1

Do not be afraid to take the path less traveled. Do not fear the problems which may seem a mile high and many miles wide, which aim to pit us against ourselves. In each and every problem lies a blessing. And in each and every tragedy, a chance to begin anew.

And so, if you find that your journey to truth and to goodness and to God himself are plagued by doubts and terror on every side, do not fear. If you find that each and every obstacle grows greater and harsher by the day, know that you are approaching the gates. Believe with your whole heart that Hashem is always there, your source of strength. In Hashem, whom shall we fear?

2 thoughts on “Light and Dark”

  1. At one time in my life I would think, when this is over, my life will be smooth. Not so, something else came along. One day I woke and saw 1)life would be so boring, 2)we would become so weak. So, what doesn’t kill us truly does make us stronger. May God bless you and May God bless Israel and May God bless America !


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