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Shabbat, December 26, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

During the Chmielnicki Uprising of 1648-1649, the town of Mezhibuzh was miraculously saved from a Cossack invasion thanks to the efforts of a simple tailor named Mordechai and his wife, Esther. This day was celebrated as a minor “Purim” by the local inhabitants.

Link: The Other Purims

Daily Thought

G-d created a monster. He called it darkness. He hid within its bowels precious jewels from far beyond this world.

Then He formed us creatures of earth and breathed within us His own breath of life. And we were charged, “Go fight with this monster and retrieve those precious jewels. Destroy it, or it will destroy you.”

Darkness then declared itself master of the universe, the default state of all things. It said, “Go ahead, pretend to fight me, until you too sink back into the abyss of meaninglessness upon which all reality is painted.” 

From our very beginning, we have fought. Sometimes we win, and darkness is chased away to its cave by our light. We turn our backs for a moment, and darkness has returned.

Sometimes we lose the battle. Sometimes the monster swallows us alive. As Egypt swallowed the Children of Israel. 

Yet the divine breath never leaves us, even within the monster’s bowels. And from there, we retrieve those jewels.

So do not fear when darkness overtakes you. Do not be dismayed when it claims victory. For it is all with purpose, a glorious purpose, as the wise Solomon said, “One man shall rule over another—for his own demise.”

Indeed, the Zohar teaches us, when the darkness rules over us, it is to its own demise. 

And that is the entire point of the exercise. Not simply to retrieve the jewels, but to bring about a wonder that could only happen through our agency and through this struggle of ours:

That eventually we will unveil darkness and discover its true identity. We will no longer call it evil, but divine mystery. The shadow of a G-d who is the true background of all things, who just is because He is.

For in truth, there is nothing else but Him.

Torat Chaim, Hanachash Haya Arum.