Topic: Consciousness | Posted:December 3, 2013
In the portion of Vayigash, Yehuda is awakening within himself the understanding that, "It's not my father Jacob, it’s not my other brothers, it is I; I have to awaken myself to become a protector.” In this case, he was a protector for his brother Benjamin. And it is that unique Light which is being awakened in our world from this portion, awakening us to truly begin to view ourselves as protectors of this world.
There is a section in the Midrash Rabbah which talks about when darkness was first experienced in our world. It speaks about the Light in the beginning of creation, and how, at that time, when Adam was connected to that Light, he had the ability to see everything that existed and everything that will exist. And it says that this original Light shined for 36 hours: twelve hours on Friday, twelve on the day of Shabbat, and twelve on the night of Saturday. So from Friday - when man came into this world - until Saturday evening, that Light shined. It was both physical and spiritual Light. Therefore, it was not until Saturday night that Adam experienced darkness for the first time. In fact, it was the first time in history that darkness - both physical and spiritual - was felt, and Adam became very scared. Adam said, "Now that I am in darkness, now this strength, this power, given over to that snake…” – the original snake which was both physical, but more importantly, the spiritual force of darkness - "…can come and do me harm."
So, what did the Creator do to relieve both the physical and the spiritual pain and fear that Adam felt at that moment? The Creator brought him two stones, and Adam hit them against each other, and for the first time in history, fire came into this world. That's when Adam said the blessing on Saturday night; it says in Psalms, “Even in the darkness of the night, there can be light for me.” He said the blessing, thanking the Creator for enabling fire to be in this world, so that even in the darkness of the night, when he was afraid, he received protection from both physical and spiritual darkness.
What's interesting is that this story also appears in a few other original texts. When you read the same story in the book called the Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, the teacher of the teacher of Rav Shimon bar Yochai, Rav Eliezer ben Hyrkanus, it seems to be a little bit different. It says that a pillar of fire was sent by the Creator to Adam to protect him, and that when Adam saw the pillar of fire, he was filled with joy. He said, “Now I know that the Creator is with me." He put his hands towards the fire and made the blessing thanking the Creator for sending it to him.
We know that there are no contradictions; there must be some way to understand these two stories as being one. Adam sat there in darkness and fear and said to the Creator, "I don't know what to do." In the Midrash, it says that he took two stones and made fire, which would seem to be an action of man. In the Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, it says the Creator sent a pillar of fire, which seems to be a supernal protection. So, which is it? Did Adam create a physical protection, or did the Creator send a supernal protection?
There’s a section from the book called the Torat Ha-'Olah, which is from a great kabbalist in the 1500’s named Rav Moses Isserles, where he speaks about the fire that was always burning when the Tabernacle existed. He quotes the Rambam, Maimonides - “We know that when the Temple existed, when the Tabernacle existed, there needed to be a fire all the time on the altar… even though we know the fire really burned from the fire that came from the heavens - a miraculous fire - nevertheless, you should bring fire from man." Why? If the Creator is going to send the fire anyway, what's the purpose of bringing fire from ourselves?
The answer is that what occurs in this world, whether it is fire or whether it is protection, is completely dependent on the preparations done by the people in this world. If we do not awaken ourselves from below, the Light cannot come from above, the protection cannot come from above, the fire cannot come from above. Therefore, how much protection we can draw to the world depends on our work; 100% protection of this world is going to come 99% from the Light of the Creator, and 1% awakened by us consciously and consistently.
So, understanding that, let’s ask the question again - which of the stories is true? Did Adam use the stones, or did the Creator send the pillar of fire to protect him to remove the great pain and fear and darkness that he felt? The answer is both.
Adam said, "I am going to be a protector for this world." But what could he do? He looked around, and there was nothing but two stones so he started hitting them together. Probably not very many sparks of Light came out of those stones, but then the amazing thing happened. As it says in the Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, the Creator sent a pillar of fire, and Adam said, "Now I know the Creator is with me.” But if Adam had not taken upon himself that responsibility of protector of this world, and said, "Even though there's very little that I can do, let me find something to do,” and hit those two stones together, the pillar of fire, the protection, would have not come.
We see such pain and terrible tragedies in the world, and as we look at them, we look at our place in it and what our work is. There are probably many other answers, but I think that for those of us who are on a spiritual path and know that there are things we can do of a physical nature, we can realize the power of the seemingly insignificant actions. We have to begin to view ourselves as protectors of this world, and as we learn from Adam when he sits in darkness on Saturday night, just as we sometimes sit in darkness, we have to say, "The snake is going to come, more judgment is going to come. What can I do?” And we just find something to do. Why? Because I'm responsible for this world. I need to be a protector of this world. And the truth is that if you're in the darkness, then you have something to do about the darkness. Then what you have to do about the darkness can be the most insignificant small action – you can take two stones and hit them together… whatever that means in your own life.
As it says in the Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, after Adam hit the stones and the pillar of fire came, he was filled with joy in his heart, and said, “Now I know that the Creator is with me, to protect me and bring protection into this world.” We should all be awakened to begin seeing ourselves and living our lives as protectors of this world, and by doing that, draw down the protection not only for ourselves, but for the entire world.