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The Darkness Itself Is the Light

Topic: Kabbalistic Concepts | Posted:December 13, 2017

Rav Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk speaks about the beginning of the portion Miketz, which occurs during Chanukah. When we talk about real certainty, we are talking about the times when we are in the lowest state, yet still able to awaken certainty that not only will the Light of the Creator assist us and we will get out of the situation we are in, but also, more importantly, that the Light of the Creator is actually involved in the darkness we are experiencing.

There are two types of certainty. One type is when we say, "I am in a terrible state, I am in darkness now, but I have certainty that the Light of the Creator will help me and take me out.” And the other, more important and deeper level is when we say, "The Light of the Creator is involved in this, and it is exactly what the Creator has prepared for me. Therefore, this is the perfect state for me to be in at this moment, and the Light of the Creator will transform it for me."

Chanukah, which falls during the portion Miketz, represents the Or HaGanuz, the Concealed Light. The Light of Chanukah is one of being able to see not just the Light when the assistance comes, but also seeing the Light in the darkness. So, why is it called the Concealed Light? Because it is Light that is experienced in the moment of concealment, meaning that when the individual is experiencing darkness he is able to have the consciousness that, “This is the Light of the Creator in totality." We know, however, how hard that is to do; it is hard to be in a place of darkness and say, "I have certainty the Light of the Creator will take me out of this and transform this situation."

The secret of the Or HaGanuz, the Concealed Light, therefore, is for the individual to come to a state where even in the greatest darkness he says, "This is the Light of the Creator, and it will be transformed by the Light of the Creator. And this experience, right now, is the perfected state; this experience, right now, is the Light of the Creator." Why? Because we know that no negativity comes from the Light of the Creator.

So, on Chanukah, we want to ask to have certainty and be connected to the Or HaGanuz, the Concealed Light.Being connected to the Concealed Light means being in a state that is experienced as complete darkness, and having the strength and certainty to say, "This is Light." It is the place where rather than saying, "I have certainty the Light of the Creator will take me out of this," we say, “This is Light, this is the Or HaGanuz." And even though our mind tells us there is nothing good there and it is only darkness, we understand there is a reason we are there. Therefore, the consciousness has to be that we are experiencing this as darkness because we do not have a connection to what is called Chochmah, the wisdom of the Light of the Creator.

Rav Brandwein tells us that oil represents Chochmah, and this is why we light the Chanukiah with oil. Lack of certainty comes from the fact that we do not have the wisdom of the Creator. If we had the wisdom of the Creator, we would see that what might otherwise be experienced as complete darkness without any positive purpose is actually complete Light. Chanukah is about having the ability, even within the darkness, to say, "This is Light,” and even within the darkness to be able to connect somehow. Even though our mind is telling us there is nothing positive there, we are still awakening the certainty that it is coming from the Creator, that it is the Concealed Light, and we, therefore, have certainty that it is the Light of the Creator.

By having the strength of consciousness even in the greatest darkness to know that it is Light and that the darkness is complete goodness, we are taking the low place of darkness, which is called Malchut, and elevating it to the world of Chochmah, the world of wisdom, because we are saying, "I might not have the consciousness of why this is perceived as darkness, but I know that in the realm of Chochmah, the wisdom of the Light of the Creator, this is only Light." And through the strength of that consciousness we say, "This darkness is not darkness, and I know with complete certainty that this is Light; as such, I elevate it to the realm of Chochmah." That is what Chanukah is, and that is why Chanukah comes at the end of the month, which represents the time of the greatest darkness. We are given the gift of Chanukah, the ability to elevate darkness to Light, to elevate Malchut to Chochmah.

We all know this on some level, but we do not have the strength. Maybe we have the strength before it happens to say, "I know that this is what I should do," but when we are in the darkness and in that low state, we do not have the strength then, so that is why we have Chanukah. And what we want to ask for on Chanukah is that the Creator gives us the strength not to have certainty to go from darkness to the Light, but to have the strength in the darkness to know that it is absolutely Light.

Again, the secret of the Or HaGanuz is not that darkness will become Light, but rather that the darkness itself is great Light. When we are able to know that, then we are able to transform it. When we are in a state of darkness and the mind tells us, "There is nothing good here. There is no possible positive reason for this to be happening," and, nevertheless, we say, "No, I know that this is from the Light of the Creator. I know, without a doubt, that this is filled with Light," then we elevate Malchutto Chochmah, elevate the darkness into a state of Light. And then it is no longer Concealed Light; it becomes Revealed Light.

We do not have the strength on our own to do that work, and that is why we have Chanukah, and it is what we want to ask for on Chanukah. The Light of Chanukah is the Or HaGanuz, the Concealed Light. It is the ability to know, when we are within a situation and the mind tells us, “This is only darkness, this has no positive purpose,” that it is actually coming only from the Light of the Creator, and that it is, therefore, complete Light. To have the ability to actually do this, we need the assistance of the miracle of Chanukah. That is what we ask for as we sit there by the Lights during Chanukah; we ask the Light of the Creator, "Give me the strength in both the greater and lesser moments of complete darkness to be able to awaken the certainty that this is only Light." Because then we know what happens. If we are able to do that, then we elevate Malchut to Chochmah, which is what the Light of Chanukah is about. It is why we use the oil, because oil represents Chochmah, and then the whole thing transforms from Concealed Light to Revealed Light.

When it says in the portion Miketz that Joseph came to control all of Egypt and the entire world, it means he came to control all the forces of negativity. Why? Because he had the strength, even in the darkest place, when he was in the dungeon, to know with certainty, "This is completely the Light, and the Creator will assist me and I will come out of this dungeon.” Therefore, he became the ruler over all the forces of negativity. We, of course, are not at the level of Joseph, so we have Chanukah. And on Chanukah, we can ask the Creator to give us the strength of consciousness, in the moments of darkness that make no sense, to know that those moments are coming directly from the Light of the Creator, and, therefore, we will have the ability to know that it is completely Light, and through that be able to transform anything.

This is the process that Joseph went through; when he came to the state where he understood that the situation he was in is complete Light, then he was able to transform it. And through the portion Miketz, and on Chanukah, we, too, can ask the Creator to give us the strength in those times that have no logic and in those times of complete darkness to be able to see it as complete Light.

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