Sunday morning, many folks will gather to write their stories about “A Time I Saw Stars”. So I’m thinking about stars today, which seems fitting because it’s in this week’s Torah portion (the first Torah portion of the entire Torah) that we read about God’s creation, that, of course, includes the stars and all of the luminaries.
There’s one piece of the story that changes the way that I experience nature: Genesis tells us that “God made the two great luminaries; the great luminary to rule the day and the lesser luminary to rule the night, and the stars”. And this is where things get exciting. You see, at first, the Torah seems suggests that there are “two great luminaries” meaning that both are equally great. And then, we see another thought: that one luminary (the sun) is greater and bigger than the other luminary (the moon).
Rabbi Shimon (in The Talmud) tries to reconcile this contradiction with a story: He explains that way back when… The moon said to God, “It is impossible for two kings to use one crown”, meaning that the moon didn’t want to share the spotlight with the sun. God understood, but instead of taking the fullness of the sun’s light away from the sun because the moon was less than happy to share the greatness, God told the moon, “Go diminish yourself.”
God let the sun keep its greatness and its power while the moon, who didn’t want to share the power and issued a complaint, was forced to relinquish some power and became the lesser luminary.
As for the stars… The sages (in the Talmud) said that “God increased its hosts [the stars] to appease [the moon]. The stars would serve as the entourage of the moon: when it comes out, they accompany it, and when it sets, they too set”.
This week, as Jews around the world read about the story of creation, and as some of us will write about “A Time I Saw Stars”, and our Jewish world will celebrate (this Sunday) a new moon and Rosh Chodesh, it’s a beautiful time to re-think the story of the great luminaries. It’s a fitting time to think about how we might be creating space for others to shine or how we might be threatened by their light. Or maybe you’ve found something else about this story meaningful. If so, let us know as we always love hearing from you.
Wishing everyone a new month filled with light, that your light has space to shine, and that we can invite others to shine as bright as possible, too. Goodness knows, our world can use all of our light nowadays!
Rabbi Dana Saroken