Dear Readers,

Every day we battle emotional, spiritual or physical darkness. We wake up to a day full of challenges, obligations and overwhelming tasks.

Though it takes hard work, we can fight our inner darkness. We fight sadness by finding happiness; we replace anger or frustration with understanding and empathy.

Often, just by taking that first step of lighting a little candle, bringing a little positivity into our environment, we can erase the darkness. One act does it—a smile instead of a scowl, a positive “I-can-do-it” attitude instead of a feeling of defeat.

In fact, often our one act snowballs into another and then another until we have an avalanche of brightness. Our act becomes contagious, so that others, too, see our change of perspective and follow suit by “paying forward” our good deeds with their own. Eventually, we have caused even more light and illumination, and we’ve overcome and vanquished the darkness.

Sounds great, right? But here’s the thing: We can do even better. Not only can we dispel the darkness, we can actually transform the darkness itself into light.

Yisron haor min hachoshech (Koheles 2:13), means that light has a superiority over darkness. But if we look carefully at the wording, it actually translates as light’s superiority is min, “from” or “due to” the darkness. A superior light is produced through the transformation of darkness into light. The greater the challenge, the more beautiful the ensuing light.

This gives us an entirely new way of viewing our trials.

Suppose you had a dark past, and finally, through hard work, you’ve built a new life. Don’t stop there! You can use your past darkness as a means to actually shape your brighter future. You can tap into the hardship or challenge, and allow that to build yourself into someone with greater perseverance, insight, understanding and empathy in helping yourself and others deal with hardship. The challenge then becomes the drive for your growth.

Or suppose through effort, you’ve fixed the conflicts and divisive issues in your troubled marriage. You can do even more! You can use those very issues to create an even stronger relationship. Tap into those problems to understand you and your spouse’s needs and personalities better to create a bond that is unbreakable.

You can say you are sorry for making a mistake and gain forgiveness. Or you can use that lapse to teach your child how to apologize and how to overcome mistakes to become even better.

In fact, the greatest darkness, sin, can be an impetus for the greatest achievement. “Where a repentant stands, even a completely righteous individual cannot reach.” When darkness makes us intensely crave light, when sin makes us yearn for a stronger relationship with G‑d, then we have succeeded in exploiting darkness itself and transforming it into the greatest illumination.

Here’s to seeing our challenges as a motivator for reaching our greatest selves!

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW