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Beit Midrash Series Parashat Hashavua

A Day of Light

On the first day of creation, Hashem created light. “Hashem called the light day …” (Bereishit 1:4). The midrash (Rabba 3:8) understands that this refers to the actions of the righteous. “… and He called the darkness night” – this refers to the actions of the wicked. “… day one” – this refers to the one special day that Hashem gave – namely, Yom Kippur.
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On the first day of creation, Hashem created light. "Hashem called the light day …" (Bereishit 1:4). The midrash (Rabba 3:8) understands that this refers to the actions of the righteous. "… and He called the darkness night" – this refers to the actions of the wicked. "… day one" – this refers to the one special day that Hashem gave – namely, Yom Kippur.
People know Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur by the name "Yamim Noraim," which means the Fearful Days. However, Chazal define them as days of light and of salvation, respectively (Vayikra Rabba 21:4, based on Tehillim 27:1). Certainly these days evoke fear. When a person stands face to face, so to speak, with the Creator of the World, who forgets nothing and from whom nothing is concealed, he naturally has elements of panic. If he can justify himself before people with 150 excuses and explanations, he knows he cannot succeed before He who knows all thoughts.
There are times that a person can fool himself and quiet his conscience with all sorts of excuses. At other times, he knows that he did something bad, but he tries to forget it. After all, that which was done was already done, and why should one agonize over the past? But, in truth, one needs to give an accounting for what he has done, and after he has died, he comes before Hashem as if he is still alive, and the evil action serves as a prosecutor against him: "Why did you do that?!" How fearful is the Day of Judgment?! What will be of us on the day of rebuke?!
However, hand-in-hand with the feeling of fear, the feeling of regret is awakened within us, and this is the mother of teshuva (repentance). It is impossible to ignore the past, but it is very possible to fix it. Every bad action carries with it an element of darkness. It creates a haze around our thought process and startles our senses, making us feel powerless. It is as if the evil is stronger than us, so that we are forced to accept the evil inclination’s will. One is like a mindless robot, controlled by someone else. The actions he will perform are dictated, and he is the not the master of his own destiny.
Then a beam of light shines forth to the dark corners of the soul. At first, one tries to avoid it and keep things dark. However, when one does not succeed and the light comes streaming in and penetrating deeper and deeper, he finally tries to change his course and recognize what he needs to do instead of being allusive. After all, we simply need to line up our actions with what is appropriate for us.
How fortunate are we who are unable to ignore our mistakes and that there really is a divine eye that observes us and a guiding hand that helps us cast off the filth and disgust. If evil actions are darkness, then at least there is one day a year, the Day of Atonement, to turn the darkness to light and turn everything into one entity. This is the day one, [the day when we are able to recreate ourselves].
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