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Menorah Files, Light VIII: Darkness Shines

Menorah Files, Light VIII: Darkness Shines

The ultimate unresolution

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The Sar spun around and threw a forbidding glare, but the scientist meekly continued.

“We don’t use philosophy. We are empiricists. Meaning that we accept the data, whether it fits our current conceptions or not. Once we have the data, we try to make sense of it—not the other way around.”

“As a matter of fact,” the scientist grinned slightly, “we have observed certain phenomena very basic to the common reality that appear to counter common sense altogether.”

“But they are measurable, nonetheless,” asserted the Sar.

“Yes, but with a caveat. You see, as soon as we start measuring anything, the reality is impacted by our act of measurement. There are, in fact, things that simply cannot be measured in all their parameters—because such a measure simply does not exist!”

“After all, just by saying that we are going to measure something, we are already bifurcating the reality. We’re saying, ‘there’s us, and there’s the thing we are measuring—and then, of course, there’s our act of measurement, which is a third thing.”

“So therefore?”

“So nothing can really be known in an absolute sense. Some things simply have no absolute state. So you can no longer say that ‘if I know the antecedent, I can predict its consequent’—because there is no absolutely defined antecedent. That leaves a lot of room for what they call miracles—when you are dealing with unknowable states, well just anything could happen. There’s no absolute rule of cause and effect, as you ancient Greeks like to believe.”

The Sar now demonstrated his mastery of sophistry, his ability to debate even on another’s ground. “But it is measurable nonetheless —perhaps not precisely, but measurable.”

“Everything, to be a something, must have some sort of measure to it,” the scientist conceded.

“Idiot!” The Sar shouted. “Is then what these Jews believe empirically observable in measurable terms?”

The scientist was unperturbed. “A scientist’s job is to measure according to what he is able to perceive with the tools available to him,” he noted. “The job of the rabbi is to heighten the consciousness of the observer so that the inner world also becomes perceptible.”

“And therefore?” insisted the Sar.

“In a strictly material world, it is true that there is no perception of ritual impurity or purity in the oil. But up here, in the inner world…”

“But they believe in things that are inherently immeasurable!! Not in their world and not in any world! Because they implicitly deny measurement!”

“Such as?”

“They themselves admit that this G–d of theirs is immeasurable. And they believe in a Beginning! Creation ex nihilo! Now, go ahead, tell me you can measure and observe that the entire cosmos came out of nothing!”

“Nothing is immeasurable.”

“Precisely. And now, have him tell you about the Holy Ark they claim to have, that is 2.5 cubits wide but takes up no space whatsoever in the ‘Chamber of the Holy of Holies’.”

The court members looked at each other with widened eyes. They knew about that chamber, and on occasion certain beings were permitted entry. But they were never allowed to measure. That place was strictly His territory.

That chamber was twenty cubits wide. The Holy Ark, measuring 2.5 cubits sat in the middle of it. The measurement from the left wall of the chamber to the left side of the Ark was 10 cubits. The measurement from the right wall of the chamber to the right side of the Ark was also 10 cubits. With the width of the Ark, the distance from one wall to the other should have come to 22.5 cubits. Yet, when measured, it came to only 20 cubits. The Ark took up no space. Yet it measured 2.5 cubits. It took up space and it did not take up space. This, the Sar Shel Yavan could not accept. And the members of the heavenly court as well, were entirely bewildered.

“But you have lost!” retorted Yosef Karo. “The Maccabees did not fall for your ploy! They refused to do the rational and searched instead for the impossible —for an untouched flask of pure oil!”

“One more small defeat in battle,” the Sar sighed. “But the war I shall still win. For you have gone too far. You are attacking the very basis of logic, and that battle you cannot win.”

“Let me explain something,” he continued, “since it is I who is the master of mathematics and logic. In our world, one plus one is two. I am ready to accept that a world could have been created where one plus one could be three, or five, or seventeen, or whatever its Creator wishes it to be. I can even accept a world where two conclusions, or even more could be drawn from one equation, as your friend the quantum physicist here wishes to posit. As I said, as long as there is logic—whatever that logic might be. As long as there are true statements and there are false statements—then there is logic and then there can be a reality.”

“But what I cannot accept is that one plus one should equal two and the same one plus one should not equal two. That a statement should be both true and false at once—that is a denial of logic. If that could be so, then you and I and all our world and all that exists have no true substance!”

Now he began to scream again, in a maddened, desperate shrill tone. “And that is precisely what you are demanding! You want that oil should burn, yet not be burning! That the laws of nature be preserved, yet a miracle occur! You are demanding darkness to shine and yet remain darkness! But it cannot be!! You cannot defy the very binary foundation of reality, of being!!”

“Yes,” the scientist piped in. “Reality is definitely binary. The whole cosmos is built on ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’. If the Rabbi wants us to abrogate that to have his miracle, well, it just can’t be done. Not even by Heaven Inc..”

Yosef Karo swung around in royal form to face and command the court. “Esteemed masters of judgment!” he declared. “Empowered to do the work of the Infinite Master of All Being! Could it be that the hand of heaven is limited in any way? Perform the Miracle of Chanukah in utmost perfection as the Torah so demands!”

Silence. Utter silence. The echo of his own voice and a room filled with pale faces. His eyes flashed from one angel to the next, to the next, this one in tears, another’s face covered with shame, some shaking their heads in sorrow, wings drooping, the glow of heaven all but vanished from their countenance.

Finally, the ChairAngel spoke up.

“Illustrious Rabbi.” He forced out his words, as though reading from a script, a glistening tear rolling over his cheek. “We thank you very much for coming today, and enlightening us with your unique perspective. It is with deep regret, however, that we inform you we are unable to process your request. We refer to the advice we have received that for a flame to both burn and not burn, for the same oil to be consumed and not be consumed, to preserve the laws of nature and defy those very same laws at once, abrogates the very basis of reality. We in heaven can make anything be. Or we can make it not be. But nothing can both be and not be at once.”

“We do, however, assure you we will do our best to hire the applicant who comes closest to fulfilling the requirements you have laid out before us, for which we thank you.”

For a moment, Karo stood still. He bit his lip, perhaps he shivered—it would be hard to tell. Then he turned ever so deliberately towards the ChairAngel and stepped in awe and trembling towards that point at the assembly’s epicenter that transcended place, time and consciousness. The Divine Spirit of the Infinite Light and Beyond overcame and enveloped him, as he raised his hands and cried out in a piercing, mighty voice, like the massive waves of a storm crashing upon the shore, like the howl of a wild, prairie wind.

“You Who dwells in darkness as You do in light, Who is found in concealment as in revelation! Beyond Being and Not Being, You who unites all things and for Whom all things are one!”

And then, even louder, unbearably, tortuously… “Almighty Father in Heaven, have compassion upon Your children who have given their lives to slaughter for the sake of Your Great and Awesome Name!”

The echo of his voice pounded the walls of the chamber, dissolving them into the ether. The supernal beings of the heavens stood stunned, as mannequins, incapable of movement. All mouths were closed, all wings held their place in perfect stillness.

And then the glory of the Holy One, Blessed be He rose in all worlds. A light that shone with equal intensity in all places, in all realms, for it knows no place or time.

“It is the Ohr haGanuz!” whispered the ChairAngel in reverence. “The light of the first day of Creation that was hidden until the Time to Come! We must all descend below to see from whence comes this light!”

And so it was that the entire Supreme Court of the Heavens descended into the Holy Chamber of the Temple in Jerusalem—the physical one on this earth—to witness the miracle of the Menorah, as the oil burned to produce a flame, but did not burn; combustion occurred, but did not occur; oil was consumed and none was consumed; transforming darkness into light while remaining darkness.

Silence reigned. And the silence was also Light.

“This is my G–d,” whispered Yosef Karo. “This is my G–d and I will praise Him.”

And all the heavenly court and the whole host of heaven, indeed all of G–d’s creation and infinite emanations burst into the song of Hallel, the praise of the Ultimately Infinite.

Including, noted Rabbi Karo, the Sar Shel Yavan.

Darkness shone.


Sources
Likutei Sichot, volume 15, page 183. See also Mai Chanukah, Kehot Publication Society, NY, 1994

Read a difficult question posed in A Fan Letter and the author's response.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Yoram Raanan takes inspiration from living in Israel, where he can fully explore and express his Jewish consciousness. The light, the air, the spirit of the people and the land energize and inspire him. His paintings include modern Jewish expressionism with a wide range of subjects ranging from abstract to landscape, biblical and Judaic.
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sunil subba India December 30, 2016

A wonderful story of the significance of the lighting of the candles.The deeper impications and realisations of the symbolic act lead one to the higher dimension.It was refreshing to read literature after a long time though i must admit it took me some time to adjust. Reply

Kate Gladstone Albany, NY, USA December 16, 2014

Question for the scientist The scientist said: “So nothing can really be known in an absolute sense” —
so does he really know _that_ in an absolute sense? Reply

Anonymous December 30, 2011

Done deal I know that I skimmed through the 8 levels quickly. I guessed at Level I that Hashem was the answer. Chanting Hallel at Level VIII is a proof in my mind.

Don't worry about giving me the contract. It was Nothing, and Something from Nothing. The end ( Level VIII ) was wedged in the beginning ( Level I ). The answer was in the question.

One day maybe i will have the time to read all the levels. It looks like a tremendous opus.

Yasher koach and Good Shabbos ! Reply

Steven Calascione Malta November 2, 2009

Awesome! Reply

Chana December 21, 2006

Fantastic adaption of a sicha! Love it! Reply

C Solis Miami, Florida December 11, 2005

Darkness Shines Beautifully done. Todah Rabba!!!! Reply

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