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Bereyshit- Let There Be Light

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

I recently read that “Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” (Carl Bard) To me, this was the perfect reflection on this week’s Torah portion, Bereshit. Following the intensity of the High Holidays and the joy of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, we dip our toe into the year that is just beginning with a renewed sense of the opportunity that this year brings, the opportunity to make a new start.

We begin with the creation of the world, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Where do WE want to shine our light, how can bring positive energy into our lives and into our community? The Torah says that the world was initially dark and chaotic, and yet, with two words, everything changed.

When we feel that our lives are chaotic, when we feel that we are living in the shadows, what are the words that we can tell ourselves that will renew our sense of hope? Let there be light; let it be our mantra.

When we feel discouraged- let there be light.

When we feel lost- let there be light.

When we feel frustrated- let there be light.

Whatever the challenges we face, we can recall that as God creates the world, each day we read, “And God saw that it was good.” This is not to say that there is not incredible hurt and pain and sadness in each of our lives. Of course, this is what it means to be human. And yet, by working to focus essentially on the positive, we can enhance the light that we experience ourselves and share with others. It is amazing how our perspective can impact how we journey through life- the fundamental role of attitude. Charles Swindoll suggested that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.

I mentioned that my mom is doing a “Storyworth” project, where each week she writes about a question and shares it with the family. A few weeks ago, the theme was, “What is your motto?” Well, what IS your motto?

My mom is 88 years old and she is a constant source of inspiration. At 88, we can all learn from her secrets of a long and happy life. Her motto? Accentuate the positive.

She writes, Think positively!

Sandy quotes this song, an oldie but goodie-

“You got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive

E-lim-i-nate the negative

And latch on to the affirmative

Don’t mess with Mr. In-between

You got to spread joy up to the maximum

Bring gloom down to the minimum

And have faith, or pandemonium

Liable to walk upon the scene”

According to mom, “You have to dwell on the good things that life has offered you. Try to minimize your difficulties. . . I have friends who are always complaining. They have the “Woe is me” attitude. I try and help them to count all their blessings. That is what I wish for you. Count your blessings. Don’t let your troubles get you down. Think “This too shall pass”. You might say, “Let there be light.”

When we shine a light onto something, our understanding is enhanced and our wisdom is increased. No wonder spiritual teachers strive to lead us towards “enlightenment.” I think my mom is on to something, that part of the definition of enlightenment is letting go. When I feel the darkness surrounding me, I find it helpful to ask myself how much the current difficulty will matter five years from now? This allows me to shift my focus from my own relatively insubstantial concerns and direct my light towards others who are truly in need. A positive outlook allows us to connect better with others and be more open to new ideas.

In this new year that has just begun, as we read the opening chapters of Genesis and the story of creation, let’s think about the world we are creating with OUR words. Consider shining a light on your strengths, on your gifts, on all the resources you can bring to bear to foster a sense of optimism and joy.

I’ll conclude where I began, “Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” (Carl Bard)


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