Let Us Be the Light

Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz

The Torah tells us that when God began creating this world, the universe was full of chaos, and there was darkness swirling over the depths of the cosmos. What did God do in the face of that darkness that was trying to envelop everything? God said, "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:1-3).

That means that from the moment our universe was created, chaos and darkness have always tried to take over. God's answer in that first moment of Creation and every moment since has been, "Let there be light."

I believe that God is powerful, but not all-powerful. In order to eradicate all the darkness in the world, God needs partners. That is why we human beings were created. We were made in the image of God so that we might be God's partners in bringing more light into the world, especially at its darkest moments.  In his seminal book God in Search of Man, the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel articulates a belief in a personal God who sees each of us as partners in creation, forging a world filled with justice and compassion.

Synagogue memorial bouquets 3 cropSaturday was undoubtedly one of the darkest days in recent Jewish history. And perhaps the darkest day in American Jewish history.  The tragic shootings in Pittsburgh cast a pall over us. It feels darker than it has in a long time. So what must our answer be at moments like this one?

Let there be light.

Better yet, let us be the light.

To quote my teacher, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, "We have to, with our actions, show that our love is greater than their hate." That is why you came this evening.  That is why so many of you from so many different faith communities are here.  Please stand if you are prepared to be God’s partner — to bring light into the darkness, healing to those who are suffering and love into this precious world of ours.

Our communities don't agree on everything. In fact, on some important issues, we disagree deeply. But what unites us is much greater than that which divides us. We share a vision of a brighter world -- one with less hunger, less homelessness, and less hate. We come together because when we do, the world becomes a little brighter, and the darkness begins to recede.

May we use our words to bring light into the world and refrain from using words that bring on more darkness.

May we use our hands and our feet to bring those words into action, so that our light can shine into the world and help those who need it most.

And most importantly, let us take our light in our hearts, and be like the shamash in the Hanukkah menorah, lighting the hearts of those around us to make the world brighter than it ever has been. Together, we can be that light.  Together we can change the world.

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