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Lights XVII

“And the Lord said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) From where were the heavens created? They were created from the light provided by God’s garment. (Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer 3) Rabbi Eliezer is teaching us that the very existence of heaven attested to the truth of the original light. The reason Rabbi Eliezer perceives ‘light’ as God’s garment is that ‘light’ is what divides Him from all His creations. It is similar to clothes worn by man, which serve to separate man’s appearance from his essence.

The fact is that God operates in His world by means of His delegates, His angels. Every single angel has specific tasks assigned to it. Bearing this in mind, the meaning of Rabbi Eliezer’s statement is: “which particular angel did God employ when He created the heavens?” “He employed the angels whose function it is to serve as the light providing His garment. (Rabbeinu Bachya; Commentary to the Torah: Genesis 1:3)

Light refers to what we are able to perceive about God. We cannot even begin to comprehend God’s essence. The Light that was created was the means for us perceive and understand what human beings are capable of perceiving.

The light of the Chanukah candles are expressions of the Light created as God’s garment – the creation of the gift that allows us to perceive what we can. We should celebrate that gift, and use it in the Hoda’ah – the expressions of gratitude – of Chanukah.

It is appropriate to study a book that discusses what we can perceive of God, such as Derech Hashem – The Way of God – while the candles are burning.

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