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Night Owls? Not!

Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8 )

by Rabbi Boruch Leff

Have you ever tried to get lots of things done at night? Did you ever assume that you can get just as much done at night as you could during the day only to discover yourself dozing off at your desk at 11pm?

Sure, we do accomplish many things at night but somehow, for most people, it is never equal to what we can accomplish during the day. Even when we nap during
the afternoon in order to stay up later at night, nights do not seem to be as productive as days. Why is this a fact of human experience?

The answer lies in this week's parsha, Genesis, and in the way God made the
world. "God called the light, 'Day', and to the darkness, He called, 'Night'."(Genesis 1:5). What does this verse mean? What is the additional insight? Is it not obvious that day is day and night is night? Are we simply being told what the first words in God's
dictionary were? We don't find the Torah telling us all the words that God defined in His dictionary. And besides, what purpose would there be to tell us dictionary word meanings in the Torah? Human experience with speech and language would suffice for us to know day is when we have light and night is when it is dark. There must be a deeper realm of explanation here.

When God calls something a name, He is giving it a role and a reality of existence. Once that role is defined, there cannot be another purpose for that object. If we humans attempt to change the God given role of an object, we will not meet much success. It would be like trying to change the gas pedal of a car into the brakes. The objects and creations of the world were given set tasks and positions by God that cannot be redesigned.

If God called light, 'Day', light's function is as Day. This means that no matter how hard man may try, no matter how advanced electricity becomes, day is day. Night can never be day. The purpose of the daylight hours is for life's accomplishments.

Likewise, when God calls darkness, 'Night', night is etched as the time for rest. Accomplishments at night can never equal that which you can accomplish by day. God programmed the world this way. This is how God defined the world, both pre and post Thomas Edison.

The Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, in a Kabbalistic vein, suggests similar
thoughts in his magnum opus of Jewish philosophy, "The Way of God" (pg. 290):

"God ordained that the night should be a time when the forces of evil have the ability to move about freely in the world. This is why the intention of night was that people
should stay home, sleeping and resting until morning. When the morning comes, authority is taken away from these evil forces and people can once again go about
their occupations until nightfall."

Have you ever had such a terrible day that you felt like there was nothing to look
forward to in your life? Yet, somehow when you woke up the next morning, things seemed different. What made your negative and dejected feelings change?

This is the purpose of our nights. We need to have breaks from day to new day because sometimes we are so emotionally pained that it is too difficult to bear. Sunset and darkness help bring an end to the negative life experience, allowing us to go on. The new morning's sunrise brings with it an ability to start new and fresh. Yesterday's disappointments do not seem as horrible and the hope for the future is as bright as the sunny day around us.

This is the meaning of the verse in Psalms (30:6), "In the evening one lies down weeping, but in the morning-joy!"

Day is designed for growth and accomplishment. Night is dedicated for rest and relaxation in order prepare for the next day of growth and goal attainment, enabling us to begin again with a brand new start to life.

The functions of Day and Night cannot be changed. No matter how far
technological inventions and improvements may go to light up our nights like our days, the workDay, and not the workNight, will always be the reality in our world.


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