The Moment of Decision

We are asked to internalize the lesson of the sun.

Rabbanit Shira Smiles,

Young women study Torah
Young women study Torah
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Lesson of 26 Adar 5769, as summarized by Channie Koplowitz Stein

Ein mazal beYisroel - the alignments of the stars and the heavenly bodies have no influence on Israel. Yet, every twenty-eight years, we, Bnei Yisroel, can influence the sun and help bring down the blessings HaShem has imbued it with. Every twenty-eight years the sun realigns itself in the exact position it was in at creation, and we
The sun does not seem to play an integral part in Judaism.
offer HaShem a blessing to thank Him for this gift. At this moment, our blessings empower the sun so that all the Earth can receive its light and its warmth, and the moon can reflect its glory at night.

The sun does not seem to play an integral part in Judaism. Indeed, our first mitzvah in the Torah is the blessing of the new moon. As a result, all our holidays are based on the moon and its cycles. We are told, therefore, that we were given the moon as our inheritance while Esau was given the sun. It seems strange that while the whole world benefits from the sun, we seem only to be able to reflect its light.

This appears to be the reality of the Diaspora, where we rely on the benevolence of the nations. Nevertheless, if the nations would not permit us to develop our light, the light of Torah, under their aegis, soon they would disappear from the world, and indeed the whole world would be destroyed.

Although the sun was given to Esau, HaShem wanted Israel to have the ultimate control over the sun and its blessings. By giving us the authority to bless the sun as it begins its new cycle, we enable the sun to bring its goodness to the world, just as any blessing asks HaShem to promote the inherent potential of that which is blessed. What would give Bnei Yisroel such power over the sun, the emissary of Esau? It is that which gives us power over Esau at any time: our power of speech, our use of Torah learning to do mitzvot and pray. Because when we live our lives in this way, we possess the true light: "For a mitzvah is a candle and the Torah is light."

We are asked to internalize the lessons of the sun every day, for HaShem "in His goodness renews daily, perpetually, the work of creation." All the more so must we internalize these lessons as we begin each new twenty-eight year cycle. And what are some of these lessons for which HaShem compares those who love Him to the sun in its strength?

One answer can be found in a midrash on creation. When the two heavenly luminaries were first created, the moon complained that there could be no two kings ruling one sphere. HaShem agreed with the moon and told it to diminish itself. How does this prove anything about the sun?

Logically, the sun could have defended itself immediately and argued that since it was created first, it was the major ruler of the heavens. But the sun was silent. God Himself came to the sun's defense. It is this humility and self-abnegation to the will of HaShem that we are to learn from the sun. The sun understood that its purpose was to serve HaShem, nothing more and nothing less. It did not complain about having to share its space with the moon. Had HaShem made it smaller instead of the moon, it would have been equally content, for it was still serving the true Ruler of the heavens. Its very name, shemesh, reflects this attitude of service.

Along these same lines, we must learn that we are required to begin whatever task HaShem has set out for us. We cannot know whether or not we will actually complete the task; that is at the sole discretion of HaKodosh boruch Hu. Just as the sun rises each morning to shine, even on cloudy days when its rays may not reach the
We begin each task with hope and understand that its completion is the sole provenance of the Ribono shel olam.
Earth, so too must we begin each task with hope and understand that its completion is the sole provenance of the Ribono shel olam. Let the sun shine not only on us, but also for us, as it did for Jacob on his journey. The possibility of failure must not prevent us from starting.

It is this very moment of decision that presents a crisis. In spite of all our preparations, we may suddenly be paralyzed with uncertainty. Even Noah, the tzaddik of his generation who worked 120 years on building the ark, was plagued with hesitancy at the last moment and had to be forced into the ark by the raging waters. HaShem in His mercy kept us from this moment of indecision and hesitancy when we left Egypt; he instructed us to eat quickly and sent the Egyptians to chase us out of Egypt.

As the sun shines on us each day and causes us to cast a shadow, do we remain true to our essence or does our shadow become our reality? In those early morning hours, when both sun and moon are visible, will be egotistical as the moon, or will we understand our purpose as the sun?

As we approach this third time since creation that the sun is in its original position on erev Pesach, a time preordained for redemption, let us pray that the sun and moon will revert to their true purpose, to mark the times of our holidays and testimonies, and that the true light hidden since creation will again emerge as HaShem's Presence becomes immanent on Earth once again.

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