In the times of Noah, there was total lawlessness in the world. Just 10 generations (according to tradition) after Adam, the world is in a horrid state.
Sometimes it is difficult to read through most of the parasha (portion) without a sense of despondency…despite the redemptive ending.
The Notion of Lawlessness in our Texts
Throughout the expanse of our texts, the word for lawlessness, (חמס) takes on different shades of meaning, and it appears in the fifth book of the Torah, Deuteronomy, in an exhortation:
כִּֽי־יָק֥וּם עֵד־חָמָ֖ס בְּאִ֑ישׁ לַעֲנ֥וֹת בּ֖וֹ סָרָֽה׃
If a man appears against another to testify maliciously and gives false testimony against him…. [19:16].
We might infer from this usage that this tendency toward lawlessness does not have to be defined in terms that connote outright violence, but can involve intention for evil which is a more sophisticated form of wickedness.
God created us with the capacity to have free will, and in the case above, our inclinations toward either positive or negative actions are often more subtle. Should I listen to someone’s opinion who differs from mine or not? Can I put myself in another’s place or not? Should I bother to speak up or not?
We know that it can be a daily battle as to whether we behave in righteous ways or not. Sometimes the decisions we make that have the most complex repercussions are the very ones we did not think too much about.
But what do we do when society as a whole seems to be on the wrong course, headed towards evil in so many aspects? How can we bring in our own light to dissipate the darkness? What possible effect can small actions have on the greater whole?
Can Evil itself be a Source for Good?
Amazingly, there is a Kabbalistic tradition that evil itself can be a source for good. How is that so? How can evil, of the highest magnitude, flip into a positive source?
Again, how does the light pierce the darkness? This might help us understand:
“…only a broken and disordered state of affairs such as we have in the world today can provide the optimal environment within which humanity can exercise the greatest spiritual, moral, aesthetic and intellectual virtues that truly make us a reflection of God. The discordant, unassimilated, and antagonistic effects of both our personal complexes and the evil in the universe call forth our highest potentialities. It’s similar to how a road test for a car involves being put under the most difficult conditions to push it to its edge and elicit the limits of its performance capabilities. This world is a perfect realm for the “road testing” of our souls. Humanity’s highest virtues are called upon when confronted by evil.” [Paul Levy : “Light Hidden in the Darkness: Kabbalah and Jungian Psychology”]
So, in what ways can you add your light to the darkness? The surest chance for you to experience an uplift is to select just one thing you will do each day to bring more light into the world.
The choices can be dependent on what you personally bring to the world, with your talents and God-given skills. It might be a phone call, a song you sing to someone, doing someone a favor, giving tzedakah (righteous giving)….the list is endless.
You probably are already doing some of these wonderful things. What I’m suggesting is that you do whatever it is you decide to do with intention. Next time, catch yourself…stop before you do a mitzvah and say a b’racha (blessing), that you are able to do this very action.
Say a blessing to HaShem for giving you the gifts that enable you to bring yourself into the world in this way. Doing so will increase your connection to God, and will be your own way of bringing the light into the darkness.
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