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Jars of Divine Light: Enjoying Jewish Legends on Humanity's Origins

Coming from a theology that strongly emphasises original sin and the fall, the Jewish perspective on humanity hums a sweet tune. If we are only totally depraved, why is there so much beauty and goodness breaking forth? Learning the art of holding two truths simultaneously is key to a thoughtful and well-examined life, as Socrates would have it.

As my friend Dre once put it, "Sometimes we need to spend a little more time meditating on the Garden before moving to the fall". May we linger there longer.

Blenheim Palace, Birth Place of Winston Churchill

A Jewish legend from the mystical Kabbalah tradition claims that God placed his extra light into jars when creating the universe. Not accustomed to being contained, the million little jars burst open one day. The broken pieces of the jar became the sin and evils of the universe, while the shards of light became the souls of human beings.

Therefore, maybe we are more than dirty rags or worms (while still, our sinful nature remains as such). Jewish theology says we are a "child of God- created with the spark of the Divine- seeing God's light in every encounter, reflecting God's light in every encounter."

This status means God chooses us as partners in his work of restoring, healing, and slowly piecing back the broken shards, if we can dare to believe it. This remains a core paradigm difference between more reformed evangelical traditions and Judaism, partnership with God. More on that another time.

I've become comfortable with enjoying these more imaginative and mysterious truths, putting my Western post-enlightenment brain to rest that desires to prove the legitimacy or extract the correct understanding. But instead, taking up an ancient lens that receives fragments of myths for the small and delightful wisdom they impart. Story, legend, and poetry can be the fastest route to the heart.

May we have the courage and the eyes to see the beauty around us, inside of us, and above us.

All quotes from the book Living Judaism by Rabbi Wayne Dosick

Speaking of partnership and creation and the festive magic lurking around us.... how about reenactment bakers? He has hard-tack and sourdough recipes on hand.

Drinking in all the beauty and oddities around me.

Cheers, Carolyn


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