And Elokim said, “Let there be light” and there was light. (Breishis 1:3)
The history of the world begins with a flood of Divine light. We cannot properly understand what this sublime light was because it preceded the creation of the great luminaries. It’s obviously a wavelength or a dimension of light different than what we experience on a daily basis.
That first overt pronouncement of HASHEM was then covered up by ever thickening veils and layers until HASHEM said to His world, as it is states in Tractate Chagigah, “DI” –“Enough”. The world at that point was sufficiently thick and viscous that someone walking on this planet for 70 or 120 years can spend their time working, sleeping, eating, and channel surfing and never ask seriously, “Where does this all come from?” Yet the world is tinged with enough wonder that someone like Avraham Avinu and we his children, can ask with sufficient tenacity to discover with certitude that HASHEM is the sole author of reality.
The ten statements that were invested into the creation of the world were designed as a cover up so that the drama of free will can unfold. The word for “world” – “OLAM” really means hidden, not because we are hiding from HASHEM but rather because HASHEM is hidden from us.
Jewish history also begins with an explosion of light. The Sefas explains that the 10 Plagues that Egypt was stricken with, was an undressing and a reversal of the covering ups of creation. It’s no mistake that the 9th of the plagues was the plague of darkness which mystical books explain as an increase of light. Many were actually blinded by the light. Those whose eyes were adjusting to the reality of HASHEM with the other plagues benefitted from that light. Others living in denial were quickly overwhelmed by the sudden truth of that light, a spiritual cognitive dissonance.
That plague corresponds to the 2nd statement of creation, “Let there be light…” The Talmud in Chagigah again explains that BREISHIS NAMI MAIMER… Breishis “In the beginning of…”-was the first general statement. Therefore the Death of the First Born aligns with that “statement” in ways I admittedly cannot explain.
Then at the giving of the giving of the Torah the world was again flooded with Divine light. The Torah testifies, “The nation saw the sounds”. They were able to see what is normally heard, as HASHEM spoke out the Ten Statements! What was hidden, laced into creation in the 10 original expressions was later revealed in the 10 statements, known as the 10 Commandments.
Our sages tell us in many ways that the history will conclude with an even more spectacular display of light by the Geula Shlaima – the final redemption. For that reason when we break the middle Matzah at the Pesach Seder we put the larger piece aside for the end, because the best is yet to come.
I remember one of my Rebbeim describing how we are traveling through history down a long tunnel. At the early part of our journey we are benefitting from and inspired by the light that comes from the very beginning. As we approach the end of our journey we begin to experience the light from the end of the tunnel. It’s really the same light, if you think about it. We have been confined to a myopic tunnel of time and space.
There is a point along the way, though, when there is neither light from the beginning nor from the end. That place can be very dark and discouraging. That’s where Chanukah plays its important role. Chanukah is a bridge of light during the darkest times of life. Sometimes we have to make it till we make it, and Chanukah provides the light necessary to make it, gaining inspiration until we can reach the light at the end of the tunnel.