Lamentations: Third Kinah -Stanza 4 Line 1 Part 2
“…and the luminaries turned dark.” Zohar Volume 1, 210a: “The very heaven and the very earth lamented, as it is written, ‘I clothe the heaven with blackness, I make sackcloth their covering.” (Isaiah 50:3) The celestial angels all raised their voices in lamentation, as it says, ‘Behold, the angels cry without; the angels of peace weep bitterly.’(Isaiah 33:7) The sun and the moon mourned and their light was darkened as we read, ‘The sun shall be darkened in his going forth, etc.’ (Isaiah 13:10)
These selections make clear that the Torah, the angels and the heavenly luminaries all mourn with us. The skies are darkened in mourning. There is no Torah, the angels have no purpose, and the sun and moon lose their meaning if Israel is destroyed. All lost some of their light with the exile. We must understand that the purpose of all of the above is to help us achieve our purpose in creation.
This idea has numerous implications; A) The Torah was created for us. (See Mesillas Yesharim chapter 1: “This world is similar to a corridor leading to the World to Come. The means to reach this purpose is the commandments.” We were not created to keep the Torah. It was created to help us achieve attachment to God.
There are many who teach that we were created to keep the Torah. However, the Midrash from Esther Rabbah makes clear that the Torah was created for us. There is a difference between teaching that we were created for Torah rather than the Torah was created for us; In the former, everything is measured by our Torah observance. We would not search for any meaning in the Mitzvot or in Torah study. In the latter we can try to understand how each Mitzvah draws us closer to God and allows us to attach. The very act of Torah study becomes an act of attachment.
Imagine the difference for our children if they understood why they should observe the Mitzvot. It would not be, “You must keep this law because I say so!” They would approach each Mitzvah as a gift and a tool to become greater human beings. They would try and understand how each Mitzvah can help them grow. The commandments would no longer feel as a burden. They would be a challenge and opportunity.
B) If we believe that we were created to observe the Torah our approach would to understanding each Mitzvah would be abstract. If we understand that the Torah was created for us, the reasons for each Mitzvah become an opportunity for growth. The lessons of each commandment become a lesson in human potential, a way of understanding what God is offering us.
C) When we understand that even the Torah was created for us, rather than the opposite, we become more important than the Torah. Our view of our purpose and existence is enhanced.
D) The Torah is the powerful expression of God’s love for us. Each evening we say before the Shema: “You love Your nation Israel with an eternal love. You taught us Torah, Mitzvot, Chukim and Mishpatim.” The Torah and its laws are an expression of God’s love for us. We are desperate to experience the power of God’s love all the while it is right in front of us. How many of us know how to experience that love? How many of us know how to convey that love to our children and students? (See Midrash Tanchuma, Noach #3, and Alei Shor, volume 2, First Gate, chapter 5 pages 97-99.)