On Shabbat Eve at Twilight
A short question and thought
When listening to my Daf Yomi podcast early this morning, my teachers spoke briefly about a piece of Page 54a from the tractate of Pesachim. My ears picked up on this short piece as something extraordinary and unexpected and so I wanted to share it here. Perhaps it will get both of us thinking of something other than the news that surrounds us during these dark January days.
Ten miraculous phenomena were created in heaven on Shabbat eve during twilight, and were revealed in the world only later? They were: Miriam’s well, and the manna that fell in the desert, and the rainbow, writing [ketav], and the writing instrument [mikhtav], and the tablets of the Ten Commandments, and the grave of Moses, and the cave in which Moses and Elijah stood, the opening of the mouth of Balaam’s donkey, and the opening of the earth’s mouth to swallow the wicked in the incident involving Korah.
From Sefaria. Talmud Masechet Pesachim 54a
How beautiful this passage is! In it are listed the things that were created at the intersection of light and darkness, of daylight and night and most importantly, between Chol and Kodesh, between the everyday and the holy. Fire, writing, writing tools and the rainbow are among the things created at this magical time. The aggadah (legend) suggests that these things were not included in the initial six days of Creation, but were a quick addendum as the Shabbat approached. But think; what would our lives be like without fire? How has writing changed our world for the better? What would life be without rainbows?
As we approach Shabbat at the cusp of twilight, I hope that you will spend some time reflecting upon what some of these things that were created as Shabbat approached. In Torah we know that by the end of the 6th day during Creation, all was already created and things were good. The act of Creation was completed and finished. With these additional creations, we can learn that perhaps even perfection can be improved upon.
All of us began this life in a state of spiritual perfection, but perhaps the gemara above suggests to us that the ability to improve ourselves never ceases. That which is created at that magical twilight hour can help make us more perfect, or at least lead us in the direction of improvement. Perhaps our own creation is never quite complete and we can make the time to improve and to imagine new ways that we can do better.
As Shabbat approaches this week, during that magical time before candle lighting, I hope that you will take the time to reflect on yourself as I will on myself. In which ways can we improve upon ourselves? What would enable us to see ourselves more clearly? What are small but achievable goals that we can set to reach us closer toward that ideal of perfection?
I'll never see that magical time between day and night and between night and day in quite the same way after today. I hope that by sharing this post, you will also see this transitional time as a way to experience and improvement in creation and a better you.
Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat. I am looking forward to the sunset.