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The Lamplighter

Moving to the “country” for the summer has always been an experience. Leaving the hussle and bussle of the big city to the quiet retreat of a small rural town is a pleasant way to mark the end of ten months of homework and car pools with the kids.
New York has been called the city that never sleeps. The lights are always on. Not so in the “country”. When it gets dark there, it gets DARK. There are a scant few street lamps to light the way at night.

It used to be that way in every city of America. Until 1796, there was no such thing as street lights. And then along came gas lights and the town lamplighter. This new innovation was brought over from England in 1806 when Baltimore became the first U.S. city to have a gas company and street lights.

Now as I walk home from synagogue on Friday nights with my children and grandchildren, we play a game we could never have played at home. As soon as we see a distant street light, each one tries to be the first to find our shadows. There are usually giant reflections of ourselves trailing faithfully behind us. As we continue to walk, we see our shadows getting smaller and smaller. As soon as we approach the light, our shadows have virtually disappeared and then just as suddenly, they jump in front of us as we run after them trying to catch them.

The Jewish Bible is called, among other names, Torat Or - the teachings of light. Judaism explains that Gd, the Creator, is the Source of all energy and He has transmitted that energy to us in His Bible.

Interestingly, the further we are from that source of light, the greater WE think we are. We have cast giant images of ourselves on the world. The closer we get to that light, the more we appreciate the greatness of the One Who created it, the more humble we become. As we stand directly beneath His shining gaze, we have completely sublimated ourselves into His holy Being and bask in the joy of His light. Only then can we move forward down the lighted path with the only thing blocking our way, the shadow we cast of our own self-image.

Blessed art Thou oh mighty Lamplighter Who fills our lives with light.

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Comments icon July 20, 2011


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