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This article was previously published in 2017.
The power of kindness, compassion, and love sometimes find our hearts in the darkest nights. While hard to accept in the throes of challenge, the truth is: Without challenge, there is no growth. Without darkness, there is no Light.
Take, for example, the portion of Toldot, in which Rivka, the wife of Isaac, finds herself miraculously pregnant with twin boys, Jacob and Esau. Even in the womb, she can feel their contrasting energies as harsh pregnancy pains, so she inquires of God as to what is happening within her. God says, "In your womb you have two nations." As it turned out Jacob became a man of study and spirit, and Esau being completely the opposite – the epitome of the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone - selfishness and ego.
We may ask, as Rashi did, how these two very elevated souls like Isaac and Rebecca could bring a soul like Esau into the world. The answer is clear when we consider the idea that Light doesn't come from light. Light comes from darkness. The whole Universe operates through polarity. Esau was wholly negative and therefore had the potential to make the greatest transformation. The kabbalists reveal that Esau represents the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone that exists in all of us, and reminds us of the tremendous power instilled within us to convert that energy for good.
Sometimes we might wish that we had no challenges whatsoever and that life would be a walk in the park. But what is more fulfilling is knowing that with spiritual tools and a willingness to look inside and partake of inner work, we can overcome and reveal more of our soul's purpose, day by day. In that way we turn the darkness that once surrounded us on all sides, to be a benefit, amending karmic debt. A great example is the person who has overcome an addiction, or abuse or another kind of trauma and is then able to go on and be a beacon of hope and healing for others. Our challenges are our golden opportunities to open our hearts, and to enjoy the blessing of being more integrated into the lives of those around us.
Whatever the difficulty we may be going through, the spiritual challenge always remains the same: To recognize that the darkness we are experiencing is our very opportunity to reveal our beauty, our inner strength, and our Light in this world.
I wish you all the energy and power you need to stand and face whatever trial is before you today with grace and consciousness. In doing so, may you taste the sweet water of the well of the spiritual path, and be forever nourished by it.