In the beginning, there was no you or me. There were no animals, flowers, or trees. There were no planets or stars. In the beginning, there was only God. Everything was the infinite, Ein Sof. There was nothing outside of, or separate from, the divine. Before everything came into being, there was God and God was all.
So, Ein Sof began dreaming. Rivers flowed through the dreams, cool and clear. Fish flashed beneath water struck sparkly with sunshine. God dreamt of dragonflies, koala bears and kangaroos. God dreamt of people – you for certain, and me, as well. It was all so incredibly beautiful.
God longed to bring the dreams into creation. But there was no room for our world! Because every particle, every iota of space, was Ein Sof, there was nowhere for you, me, and the moon to fit. So, God inhaled and shrunk just a little. Ein Sof contracted to create enough space for our world to be made.
With room to work, God spun our planet into bold creation, rocky and cold. In those first moments, it featured no oceans, no land, no animals. It was just a rock, bathed in darkness. Ein Sof immediately recognized how beautiful our planet could be with a little illumination. But from where would light come? Ah, thought God, there is no light like divine light! Inspired, Ein Sof fashioned gargantuan vessels, swirling with the hues of every jewel. And into the vessels, God poured the luminescence of divinity. Blindingly bright, the light of God shone from each vessel, enveloping everything in its radiance. But what vessel can hold God? They shattered. In a thunderous crash, divine light burst into zillions of sparks, falling gently to earth. There they glowed, crackling with electricity.
Undeterred, Ein Sof began again; creating the sun, the moon and all the stars in the sky. And from the sparks of divinity that had fallen to earth, God fashioned fathomless seas, arid deserts and jungles overflowing with sweet fruit. From the sparks came all the fish in the sea, the birds above, and the insects, too. Flowers of every color blossomed from the sparks, infusing the air with perfume. Bees buzzed, bunnies munched on lacey greens, and polar bears dove into icy water, swimming with the current. Everything God creates contains one of the divine sparks. There’s one in me and there’s one in you.
But often, we can’t see the sparks around us. When we look in a mirror, we don’t see the blaze of sparks within us reflected back. All the holy sparks are hidden. But we can play hide-and-seek with them! They’re actually not hard to find. If you do something nice for me, and I do something nice for you, our sparks start to glow and reveal themselves. If we work together to improve our community, our sparks glow even brighter and ignite the sparks of others, too. Giving hugs reveals sparks. So does giving food to those who are hungry, and shelter to those who have no homes. Listening when someone needs to be heard exposes sparks, as does advocating for someone whose voice is silenced. Apologizing when we know we were wrong, practicing patience when it seems most difficult, and doing what we know to be right even when it isn’t easy or rewarded, all reveal the holy sparks.
There is holiness within you, friend. It shimmers with possibility, waiting for you to reveal it spectacular flame. How will you coax the sparks into the light? Where will you look for them today?
This story was adapted by Akiva Yael, an enthusiastic participant in all that is holy, including Torah study, powerlifting, and the beauty of our world. The story is from a Chasidic creation narrative, intended to explain the first verse of Bereishit: “When God began to create heaven and earth – the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water – God said, ‘Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day” (Genesis 1:1-5).