Tetzava: The Curious Relationship of Darkness & Illumination

hero image
Light through darkness
03 Mar 2009
Arts & Media

Pure…to kindle the lamp continually

Darkness’s mood is not very bright. He is very unhappy, almost mean I would say, like a storm brewing, boiling on the cold flame that is Selfishness – the teabag of Depression steeped in that bubbling, freezing liquid, turning an already murky atmosphere pitch black.

No honey or sweetener added to this brew.

He crawls along, on all fours, climbing the brick walls we’ve built to keep him out, his filthy fingernails peeling away the links of our every fence and scraping away the comforts of our every defense. Relentless is Darkness as he slips into every crack, cranny and crook.

On this particular day, Darkness and his swarthy complexion are very much at home. It is raining big fat drops and the menacing grey clouds crawl teasingly overhead, armored sentinels guarding against the sun’s yellow ray.

Through the puddles he slithers, a snake on his belly, a serpent in his heart. He is looking for trouble. Perhaps to say something unkind here, ignore a crying child there; maybe a chuckle at another’s misfortune, or even just a subtle smirk at a novice’s naïve attempt at sincerity. To Darkness the canvas matters little, so long as it is shady and black.

He squirms and squiggles, making all those around him squirm and squiggle in turn. Such is the nature of Darkness (and all things really): insecurity begets insecurity, tears inspire more tears; and shards poke holes creating more shards.

Don’t get me wrong, Darkness is deep, very deep, his mind capable of reaching into the complexities of confusion and the confusions of desire. He is as rational a man as one who has never loved. And that just might be the problem…

As he slithers nose in dirt, she flows lips upturned, fluid like liquefied lava. Illumination is her name, Warmth her smile, and Light her face. She shines effortlessly because she knows a secret.

His eyes squint, beginning to burn, bright as a star pupil. Darkness is confused and Darkness is never confused. Confusing others yes, but himself confused – never!

He screams at her — Get out of my Darkness!

She says to him, softly — Come into my Light!

— Go away you shiny thing, flickering all over the place, illuminating my grotesque face! I wish to remain in the shadows, my soul buried! Why are you doing this?

— Because without you my Light is less. Because I know where you come from and to where you can go.

Darkness snarls — And how is that exactly?

She smiles — You see, in the Light I can see your face. And I recognize it. I come from the same place you come from; Illumination is who you are, Darkness only your mask…

And Darkness begins to weep, tears washing grime from his cheeks, sobs shaking the dust from his hair and the soot from his rags. He glows now, another candle in the Menorah that is Life.

(Perhaps I should not get involved beyond the narrative, but I cannot help myself. Stories have a way about them, how they crawl into your heart before you even realize you have one.

Light burns continually, its fuel always Pure. Some see fiction as something made-up; I, the narrator, see it as a means to reflect the Truths of the universe and its blueprint, the Torah. This is the ultimate Illumination, when the fictions of Earth shine with the Truths of Heaven.)

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at jakeyology.blogspot.com

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.