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The flight took off shortly before sunset. We were travelling west and thus against time. I sat transfixed watching the scenery out of my window as the sun was being suspended in time, and battling for over an hour to complete its path of retreat from the horizon, but never quite doing so.

Beneath us was a shadow of absolute blackness, but ahead was a fiery ball, a breathtaking combination of blood reds and seething oranges, casting lighter shades of pinks and mauves around the outward edges of its sphere.

The sky directly surrounding it was illuminated by the sun's brightness and its hues were graduating from lighter tones of azure to traces of deep navies and midnight blues and finally, an intense, bottomless black. We were flying against the enveloping darkness, and, with our constant movement, keeping it at bay.

Sunset, like sunrise, is a special moment in our day that is heart-stirring; a moment that is replete with such beauty.

As I gazed at it from my plane seat, I wondered why we are so entranced by these occurrences. Of course, we are overtaken by the magnificence of the scenery, and by the unique colour combinations of the dipping and rising sun. But, perhaps on an inner, intuitive level, we perceive and value much more. Each sunset and sunrise metaphorically represents to us something about our own lives that we discover within each of these moments.

Each sunset and sunrise metaphorically represents to us something about our own lives that we discover within each of these moments.

Witnessing the mounting sun breaking through the austere darkness creating the dawn of a promising new day, we instinctively sense our own personal surge of hope, our own glimmer of light. In that instant, we, too, are reinvigorated by fresh rays of sunshine illuminating the unwelcoming, darker circumstances of our own lives.

And though the sun setting superficially means the arrival of the dreary darkness of the night—and the bleak, lonely circumstances of our lives—perhaps we innately grasp that even within this encounter, there is a also a prospect for new growth.

While angels are stagnant and unvarying, human beings are called "movers", journeyers, who constantly experience change and progress in their lives, enabling them to transform themselves into the people they are meant to be.

Unlike the constant static moments of the day, both the rising and setting sun represent to us this movement. They are our reminders of a new stage in life and as such represent the potential to unearth a newfound beauty that wasn't present in the fixed sunny midday hours or in the dark, stationary evening hours.

Perhaps we intuitively appreciate the glory of the setting sun, because as humans, we embrace opportunity—even one that may mean a darker circumstances—so that we can find within it, its own light.

How have you taken a sunset in your life and found within it beauty?

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Brian Shapiro via July 3, 2010

Sunset Beautiful writing visuals. You are one of the few who writes about colors well. I loved it.

Anonymous April 9, 2008

Single-function Malech? I had an experience with an angel once, maybe. At that time--may it not happen again--I was going through a very difficult part of my life. I decided to try meditating one Shabbos, inspired by Kabbalah and desperation.

Whether I dreamed this, or imagined it, or it was some transcendent experience of the numinous realm, I sensed (didn't see) a being. It said its name was "Neirah," which I had to go and look up at the library.

I couldn't remember the name right the first time and looked up Neilah, which reminded me of my incorrect behavior on Yom Kippur the previous year--definitely may that never happen again--and then found the name: it is an Aramaic name that connotes light, kind of like the Hebrew name Neriah.

This experience, a note sent to the Rebbe's ohel, and fasting with some serious purpose on Tisha b'Av led me out of the difficulties and into a journey toward better circumstances. Doing better on Yom Kippur this year didn't hurt. I'm still on the journey. Reply

chana weisberg April 9, 2008

To: Angels are not "stagnant" I admit that personally I have never met an angel, so the only way I would know about them is through our tradition and the teachings of those sages who were quite familiar with them. According to them, neshamot (human souls) are much higher than angels. One of the reasons is that neshamot can effect real change, whereas angels are stuck within their role.

This is what I know from the holy books. But perhaps you have another source that you would like to share with us. Reply

Pia Rivka Los Angeles, CA, USA April 9, 2008

Angels are not "stagnant" A human child is the greatest "mover," constantly and more rapidly experiencing change and progress in their life. As the human individual ages, they seem to "slow down" but they are actually experiencing change and progress more deeply and more internally. Thus, a child could say that their parent is "stagnant and unvarying," which is not true. Angels are those at higher levels of development, who may appear to a human being as being "stagnant and unvarying" because they do not experience sickness or death anymore, so their even deeper changes and progress are even less apparent to human beings. But this does not mean that an angel isn't changing or making progress -- it just means that human beings cannot understand (yet) what happens to angels. In order to get this understanding in the future, human beings must strive to become angels, just like children must strive to grow up to become proper adults. Reply

Melissa Greenville, SC April 8, 2008

Keeping the Darkness at Bay This is just a beautiful blog article, Chana! I love the description of the sunset. And then I read this: "We were flying against the enveloping darkness, and, with our constant movement, keeping it at bay," which seems mystical to me. May it be so.

Anonymous April 6, 2008

The Reason for Darkness Maybe the point of darkness is to give us an appreciation for light? If we were always surrounded by sun and the kaleidoscope of colors you vividly describe, we would just take the beauty for granted.

The darkness in life is a frame for its beautiful points—such as this article. The monotony of daily life makes so much more poignant those moments when we encounter true beauty.

Thanks for a touching article. Reply

Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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