This coming Wednesday morning – as they have
done every 28 years – Jews world over will be gathering
outdoors to glance at the sun and declare: “Blessed
is He who reenacts the works of Creation.”
Last week’s column, Restoring
the Balance, discussed the cosmic significance of this
historical and rare convergence, when the sun returns to
the exact time and space of its conception. This event allows
us to restore the balanced configuration of our lives, realigning
it with the harmony of the cosmos.
But upon further review, a very fundamental question arises
concerning the entire basis of the 28-year cycle. The
solar year is 365.25 (or to be more exact: 365.24219) days.
If the cycle were a perfect 365 days, the sun would return
to the same exact spot at the same exact time each year.
Due to the .25-day addition, it takes 28 years for the sun
to return to its original location at the same day and hour.
Which begs the question: In a world of unparalleled
eloquent symmetry why did the Divine plan not include a
balanced solar cycle – a perfect 365 days, which would
have made life a lot simpler?
The answer lies in the verse in Genesis that first describes
the sun’s creation and purpose: “Let there be
luminaries in the heavens to distinguish between day and
night; and they shall be for signs, and for seasons, and
for days, and for years. And they shall be for luminaries
in the heavens to illuminate the earth” (Genesis 1:14-15).
The sun’s raison d'être is to “illuminate the world” (repeated
twice in these verses). The actual original Hebrew expression
is “le’ha’ir al ha’artez.” “Le’ha’ir” – from
the word “ohr” – actually means much more than light.
“Ohr” is energy, which encompasses many things: light,
illumination, warmth, radioactive waves, and all the other
multitude of effects that the suns rays (visible or not)
have on Earth. A more accurate translation of the verse
may be: To energize the Earth.
In other words, the sun and the moon are not two self-contained
luminaries, divorced from earthly affairs. They are both
an integral, intertwined part of the human condition. Indeed,
their entire being is to serve Earth. They affect us and
we affect them.
Thus, the sun and moon – just as we earthlings –
do not have perfect cycles. Their movements reflect the
disparity of our lives – all our inconsistencies and
imperfections, cracks and divides. Our split between spirit
and matter is mirrored in the sun’s uneven cycle,
as well as the moon’s.
What is the root of this disparity? Explain the mystics
that unity is the core essence of all existence. But in
order for our lives to have meaning, indeed, in order for
our independent existence to even emerge from its essential
state of unity, a grand tzimtzum – a colossal withdrawal
– took place, which concealed the unifying Divine
light that “filled” and permeated all of existence.
Once the conscious light was “withdrawn” (i.e.
concealed), our independent consciousness was able to surface,
allowing for existence as we know it.
This tzimtzum is the root of existential dissonance
– and all forms of disparity. It allowed for the birth
of two states of being, two, as it were, realities, with
a split dividing two perceptions: One, the true perception
from above, that sees everything as one integral field of
energy. Two, our pluralistic perception from below that
makes us feel that we exist apart of everything else.
All forms of duality that we experience – from the
esoteric split between spirit and matter, form and function,
body and soul, to the tangible conflicts that plague our
psyches and lives, the battles between our mind and heart,
the domestic conflicts between spouses, friends, different
opinions and nations – are all a result of the cosmic
tzimtzum’s “black hole” concealing the harmony within
Diversity per se is a blessing; a necessity to discover
beauty in the manifold colors and shades of our common tapestry.
And indeed, that is the objective of the tzimtzum
in the first place: Not to conceal, but to reveal. Not to
divide, but to unite. To allow us the power and choice to
see beneath the veil and reconnect the seemingly fragmented
But diversity left unchecked creates divisiveness. When
the purpose of our differences is misunderstood, with an
added dimension of insecurity and fear thrown in, discord
is born. Divisiveness and discord are but one step away
from hostility, prejudice, war and finally mutual destruction.
Our great masters, mystics and teachers always emphasized
that the single most important thing we must never forget
is that: We are all parts of one whole. We need each other,
and we complement each other. If one component is hurting,
we all hurt. Hashem Echod – the ultimate declaration
of unity in the most famous liturgy of them all (the Shema)
– is not just a statement about monotheism. It means not
only that there is one G-d and not many gods; it’s ultimate
meaning is there is one reality and not two or many
realities. When you are fiercely negotiating a business
deal on a mundane Wednesday you are connected with the same
Divine unity as when you are fervently praying in a Synagogue
on Yom Kippur. When this unity is concealed every form of
disparity and inconsistency arises.
Since dissonance lies at the heart of our existence (with
the objective of integration), the sun and moon, created
to “energize Earth,” being part of our destiny,
must reflect our disparity in their own imperfect cycles.
In a cryptic episode the Talmud (Chulin 60b) relates the
following drama: Initially the sun and the moon were equal
in greatness and luminance. But then, the moon said to G-d:
“Master of the Universe! Can two kings wear the same
crown?” Said G-d to her, “Go diminish yourself.”
Said she to Him, “Master of the Universe! Because
I have said a proper thing, I must diminish myself?”
G-d then proceeded to console the moon with her various
benefits. Seeing that the moon was not appeased, G-d finally
said: “Offer an atonement for My sake, for having
diminished the moon.”
Amongst all the statements of our sages, this one remains
one of the most mysterious. And indeed, it is the focus
of entire volumes of commentaries and especially Kabbalistic
interpretations (see G-d
on the Moon). Here is not the place to go into these
elaborations, but suffice it to say, that the moon’s
“dialogue” with G-d reflects the existential
loneliness and dissonance that we all experience in our
search for self awareness and purpose. The resulting questions
– the ego trying to assert itself in face of sensing
a higher awareness; the clashes it will face as it battles
between self-interest and the good of others; the journey
to understand our identity and purpose in life, our “identity
crisis;” the ordeals and diminishing that we undergo
in our aspirations; the suffering and losses we will endure;
and finally the Divine plan behind the story, including
G-d’s “trepidation” for having caused
so much pain – is all part of the moon’s cosmic
The sun and the moon are two forces in our lives, and the
very fact that the moon was troubled how it would co-exist
with the sun (can two kings wear the same crown?), reflects
the duality that we all experience. As does the resulting
diminishing of the moon: Are we givers (like the sun) or
receivers (like the moon)? Are we dependent (like the moon
reflecting the sunlight of others), or independent, emanating
our own unique light?
In an elaborate and even eloquent fashion the Kabbalists
explain the evolutionary process, how the dissonant environment
created by the tzimtzum led to the “shattering of
the containers” (in the chaotic world of tohu), which
in turn produced the “complaint” and the “diminishing”
of the moon, and finally how that led to Adam and Eve’s
loss of innocence, when they were thrust into a world of
duality from their initial state of seamlessness. Defying
G-d and eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,
resulted in the fissure of the human psyche; it gave birth
to self-consciousness, and the split which plagues mankind
to this day, between our own sense of consciousness and
personal needs and a sense of higher consciousness and greater
calling (see The
Origin of Consciousness).
But this is not just a story of lunar dissonance. It’s
twin luminary, the sun too, is affected by the misalignment
between spirit and matter caused by the tzimtzum.
The sun’s cycle is therefore not a perfect 365 days, and
also awaits our efforts to realign the imbalance every 28
With this in mind, we can begin to appreciate the powerful
significance of the sun blessing next Wednesday morning.
Think of it: We humans have the power to relieve the solar
trauma – and the tensions caused by all life’s
imbalances – by simply gathering together, uniting
and recognizing the sun’s original alignment, blessing
this event and drawing down its harmony into our lives.
The sun affects us in a myriad of ways. We are alive
because of sunlight. We have tanned in the sun (and even
been burned), basked in its warmth, tapped a bit of its
energy, watched its' majestic rise and set. The 28-year
solar cycle, which we now celebrate, tells us that there
is more. Much more.
We have the ability to restore the balance so desperately
needed in our personal and collective lives.
If you asked me, sounds like a pretty good reason to get
up early coming Wednesday morning and greet the sun in the