Luminaries in the SkySeptember 26, 2013 - 5:00 am
“God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”—Genesis 1:16
The Torah portion for this week is B’reisheet, which means “in the beginning.” It is from Genesis 1:1—6:8, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 42:5—43:10.
As we begin reading through the Torah portions anew, we learn about the beautiful creations that God made in the beginning of time as we know it. The Sages teach that God’s creations are not just for us to use and enjoy as we make our way through the world; they are also here to teach and guide us. Each of God’s creations has a message and a teaching. Let’s take a look at the messages of the sun and the moon.
Tradition teaches that when God first created the sun and the moon, the two luminaries were equally as bright. This made the moon very upset. The moon went to God and said, “Can two kings share one crown? Who will rule the sky — me or the sun?” As a result, God diminished the moon. She became less bright and would only shine at night. From this allegory, the Sages teach, “He who seeks fame will lose his name.” As a result of the moon wanting to be greater than the sun, she became less brilliant than she had already been.
However, the story doesn’t end there. Once the moon became less bright, the stars around her were able to be seen. Had she been as brilliant as the sun, those stars could never shine. As a result, the moon became the queen of the sky and the stars around her became her subjects. From this we can learn that sometimes when we are “less,” we become “more.” When we let others shine, we become more brilliant ourselves.
Now let’s consider the sun. While the sun was allowed to remain as bright as when it was first created, the reality is that when the sun shines at full capacity, no one can bear to look at it. Its bright light causes us to look away. However, when the sun is setting – making way for the moon – we can look at it and see it for all of its beauty. Again, the lesson is repeated: When we make way for others, we become more beautiful. When it’s all about us, no one can bear to look our way, yet when we step out of the way, letting others shine, people look at us with joy and admiration. The Sages teach: “He who chases honour, honour runs away from him. But he who runs from honour, honour chases him!”
Friends, this is such an important lesson that God put daily reminders for us in the sky. Society teaches us that we will be judged by how great we look. But the reality is that we will be remembered for how great we made others feel. Our brilliance is most apparent when we help other people shine.
This week, consider what we can do to help those around us — our friends, our co-workers, our children, our spouses — “shine.”