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Light as a Moral Purpose

September 9, 2011

Light as a Moral Purpose

As I prepare for the High Holy Day season, beginning later this month with Rosh Hashanah, I contemplate myself and my life in an attempt to do better. This is what is demanded of Jews during the month before the Jewish New Year. The truth is, it is demanded of us every day, but our focus turns most fully to this as we make ourselves ready for a new start.

A tool that I have found very inspiring for the last several years is Jewels of Elul, a series of writings put together by musician Craig Taubman. I wrote of this last year, and as we are once again in the season, I want to share an inspiration with you that I received this year. Each year has a theme, and this year’s is The Art of Seeking Light. Fascinating enough that seeking light can be considered an art. Much like the heartisan, the one who seeks to better the world through the devotion of his or her heart, there can be an art to seeking light as well.

Rabbi Steven Lowenstein made a statement that has gotten me thinking:

“Bringing light into the world is as powerful a declaration of moral purpose as any act a human being can undertake. “

I wondered about the relationship between light and moral purpose. Each of us is born with light, each of us carries light. Sometimes we say of someone, “When she walks in, she lights up the room.” But what of light as a declaration of moral purpose? Perhaps what Rabbi Lowenstein is getting at is that it is great for us to bring our light when we want to, and for some it can even be fun, perhaps a social expression, but to continually choose to bring light into the world, particularly when those around us poo poo it, or when the times around us are dark, is reflective of a strong commitment to one’s morals and to ensuring that wherever one walks, so too does that moral conviction.

We all know of people who stamp on ideals, visions and dreams. We all know those who would rather we speak gossip with them than hold our tongue, or would rather see us join them in corruption instead of us doing what it right. Each time we make that choice, according to Lowenstein, we are bringing light into the world.

No matter what your faith or spiritual practice, I wish you renewal and light as we begin this fall season, and a hope that you can hold on to your light and radiate it strongly, particularly this weekend as we remember the people and events of 9/11/2001.

Robin Damsky

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 9, 2011 5:48 pm

    It is often said that sunlight is the best disinfectant, metaphorically that shedding light on something reveals the truth. So “the art of seeking light” might also refer to our obligation to be creative in pursuing and discovering truths. Shabbat shalom!

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