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Updated: Mar 14

When the lights go out, that’s when the show starts.

There are times that darkness is just that; it’s dark and there is no end in sight. But like everything else in life, it comes down to what you choose to make of it. Two people in the same room, seeing the exact same thing — in this case, the darkness — can have vastly different take-aways. One may view it as there being no chance to see anything, while the other will recognize that potential for light. Because in a room that is already illuminated, there is nothing to be gained by turning on a flashlight; but when it’s dark even the slightest light can make the biggest difference. That’s why perspective is so important.

When it comes to perceiving the potential for light within the darkness, you don’t need to inherently be an optimist. Recognizing the potential is much more than being optimistic, it’s about seeing the true purpose within every situation we find ourselves in. We don’t give up when things are difficult, because we believe that G-d placed us in a challenging situation knowing that we have the tools and abilities to overcome it. Seeing the present circumstances as being full of potential is how things will actually start improving.

We find an example of this phenomenon when the Jews were traveling in the desert. After five Torah portions describing the construction of the Mishkan, the traveling sanctuary, we read about the “cloud of glory” — symbolizing G-d’s presence — reposing upon it. That’s how the Jews knew that their work had been accepted by G-d, and that the Mishkan was now a holy structure, functioning as the focal point of their relationship with G-d.

Then, immediately after describing the Mishkan’s completion and G-d’s presence in it, the Torah says that whenever the cloud of glory began rising, it was a sign that they were to disassemble the Mishkan and begin traveling.

As we know, the Jewish people’s journey in the desert had one purpose: to reach the Promised Land. So on the surface, it seems odd that such a lofty goal, the arrival in Israel where they were to settle and begin living as an independent Jewish nation, was expressed through G-d’s presence leaving the Mishkan. Surely, there could have been another way for G-d to indicate that they should travel without His presence departing.

But that was in fact the point. When G-d’s presence is constantly felt, there is light, and thus there is little or no drive to grow one’s connection with G-d. But when it’s dark, when G-d’s presence departs, even temporarily, that’s when we recognize the need to be productive.

The purpose of settling in the Land of Israel was for the Jewish people to establish themselves as a beacon of light in the world. We were given the mandate to transform the mundane world into an eternal home for G-d, where everything we do can be infused with holiness. Whether it’s eating breakfast or taking a jog or sleeping at night, life is full of potential spiritual moments and all we need to do is recognize them as such.

When the light is always there, it’s harder to recognize the need. But as soon as it gets dark and G-d’s presence seems to have departed, that’s when we spring into action and transform the darkness into an even greater light.

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