Sparks in the Dark
"And the emaciated and inferior cows ate up the first seven healthy cows. They came inside them, but it was not apparent that they had come inside them, for their appearance remained as inferior as at first." (Bereshet 41:20-21)
It's amazing. However far a Jew strays from his or her roots, you'll still find a menorah burning in their window. There may be a Chanukah bush at the other end of the living room, there maybe cheeseburgers on the table. But while there's a little spark of Judaism left, a Chanukah menorah still shines there in the window.
When the Ancient Greeks defiled the Holy Temple, they overlooked one little flask of oil. It was that little flask, untouched and untainted, which allowed the Menorah to blaze into light when Judah Maccabee and the Hasmoneans defeated the might of Greece and the Jewish People returned to the Holy Temple.
Inside every Jew there is a little spark of holiness, a flask of pure oil, a light that never goes out. All the "Greeks" of history, in all the lands of our exile, have tried to sully that oil, to put out that little light, but it can never be extinguished. How many millions of our people have given up their lives for that little spark? Evil may trumpet its vainglory to the skies, but it can never put out that light.
If you think about it, probably the biggest miracle of all is that evil itself can exist. The definition of evil is "that which G-d doesn't want." If the whole world is no more than an expression of G-d's will, how can evil exist?
This is a secret which the mind of man may contemplate but never fathom. Maybe one approach is that evil can only exist by virtue of some spark of holiness wrapped inside it that gives it its life force, its ability to exist at all.
In this week's Parsha we read: "And the emaciated and inferior cows ate up the first seven healthy cows. They came inside them, but it was not apparent that they had come inside them, for their appearance remained as inferior as at first." (41:20-21)
In the above verse, the emaciated and inferior cows symbolize the forces of evil. The healthy cows represent the forces of holiness. The emaciated cows eat up the healthy cows and yet, from the outside, the spark of holiness is totally undetectable: "It was not apparent that they (the healthy cows) had come inside them..." Nevertheless, it is the spark of holiness which gives them their life force.
The Jewish People are in their darkest exile. G-d's presence is so hidden we don't even see that His concealment is concealed. We live in a double-blind world where evil seems to thrive; where tragedy abounds; where selfishness and materialism have eaten to the very core. Yet, in the heart of all this evil — there is a holy center. Without that component of sanctity, evil would cease to exist in a second. For by itself, evil can have no toehold in existence.
But that holy spark burns on in the heart of the Jewish people. The menorah represents the heart of the Jewish People, and in that heart burns a little flame that cannot go out. Any day now, that spark will burst into a fire that will consume all the crass materialism like so much straw, and then we will no longer light our menorahs in the windows of New York, London and Buenos Aires. Any day, the kohen gadol will once again enter the Holy of Holies and re-light the lights that have burned in holy Jewish Hearts through millennia, sealed inside that flask that can never be sullied or spoiled.
Source: Sfat Emet