Look to the light in this new year

Orrin Krublit is assistant rabbi at Congregation B’nai Amoona and a member of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association. 


For many of us, beginnings can be simultaneously exciting and challenging. There are many “new starts” that we face throughout our lives: new schools, new years, new careers, new family members and more. Some people may approach these opportunities with trepidation, filled with anxieties about what the unknown may bring. Others may look at what chances for growth and flourishing these new outsets provide. Both are present in our tradition and in our Torah reading for this week.

Parshat Bereshit begins with the creation of a Divine Light. This Light, according to the Talmud, was so powerful that it enabled a person to see from one end of the world to the other (Bavli Chagigah 12a).  It shined so bright that a single person could see all that the world contained. There was nothing unknown when this light was present in the world, which meant that there was no reason to be afraid. 

What would it look like if we could approach new beginnings as though this light existed for us? If we could jump in feet first when presented with new opportunities, with no fear of what these new starts might be concealing? If we could start a new career, or a new school without worrying about the unknown? If we could have no fear for our children and grandchildren because we knew for a certainty that everything was going to be OK?

Later in the Parashah, Adam and Eve are experiencing creation for the first time. The Talmud relates: On the day that the world was created, the first Adam, when he saw the setting of the sun he said, “Woe is me, it is because I have sinned that the world around me is becoming dark; the universe will now become again void and without form. This then is the death to which I have been sentenced from Heaven!” So he sat up all night fasting and weeping, and Eve was weeping opposite him (Bavli Avodah Zarah 8a).

For some of us, facing new things can be a harrowing experience. We don’t know what the future holds, and seeing the world shift around us can be terrifying because it feels like everything is outside our control. In the above story, Adam, the person who has such control over his environs that he names all of creation, becomes petrified after having a new experience outside his control. This is what new beginnings might feel like for those of us who need to have a sense of security.

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However you rise to greet the beginning that this new year brings, may you find your year filled with more light than darkness, more peace and security than fear and uncertainty. As we read about the creation of the universe, let’s do our part to make our world new again, full of opportunities for thriving and growth.