If the Creator is an endless source of Light, where does darkness come from? Is darkness a separate entity? What is its purpose?
In Ten Luminous Emanations, Rav Ashlag explains that our Desire to Receive for the Self Alone is the source of all darkness and negativity in our world. This is because our Desire to Receive is the one thing that makes us different from the Creator, who is an eternal source of sharing. The more that we grow a Desire to Receive for things other than the Light of the Creator, the stronger that separation grows, and the more we pull away from the Light into darkness. However, it is important to understand that even the Desire to Receive comes from the Creator on some level. It is an important understanding that reveals the truth about the nature of our souls and the hardships we face in our lives.
Rav Ashlag teaches that everything has its source in the Creator, even darkness. Although the Creator has no Desire to Receive, He designed us with that Desire in order for Him to share the Light with us. It is our Desire to Receive that can actually bring us closer to the Creator if it is a Desire for the Light and not for things of the physical world. But the fact that our Desire to Receive made us different in form from the Creator means that it creates a separation.
In the beginning, this separation was not total darkness, just a shade darker than the Light. It was a long, slow process that created total darkness. The more that the Desire to Receive pulled us away from the Creator, the more darkness was manifested in the world. The Desire to Receive was only the first step – the total pursuit of the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone was total darkness. So, because the Creator created our Desire to Receive, which eventually manifests as darkness, it can be said that darkness came from Light. Even the greatest darkness still has a seed in the process of the Creator – though the creation of darkness was not immediate.
The same is true of our personal connection to the Creator. Rav Ashlag explains that going from Light to darkness can almost never be an instantaneous, quick process. When a person goes from being connected to disconnected from the Light, it does not happen immediately. Our negative side (our Desire to Receive) cannot suddenly tell us that we are disconnected from the Light. Instead, it is like a spider that slowly weaves a web. Over time, it can completely overtake us the more that we feed it. The saddest part about a person who is completely disconnected is that they don’t even know! It is such a slow process that it happens without us being aware.
The valuable lesson here in knowing that darkness has a source in Light is that it means the Creator is with us in difficulty, even when we are in the darkness. No matter what darkness or disconnect we experience, we have to know that the Light is there too. Even when we are at our absolute lowest point, the Light is there. Many of us have heard this concept before, but thanks to Rav Ashlag, we now understand the spiritual logic of it. Of course, the Light has to be in the darkness because darkness came from Light!
Our negative side does not want us to think about or know that the Light of the Creator is there with us always. It wants us to think we are so disconnected from the Light that there is no going back. But knowing that there is Light in the darkness allows us to know that we are not really disconnected. That consciousness has the power to remove the outer layers of that darkness. As the Baal Shem Tov says, knowing that the Light is with us in the darkness takes away that darkness.
With that consciousness, the next time we find ourselves in a dark situation, we know, “I am not disconnected. It is impossible. Even darkness is not completely disconnected from the Light.” That consciousness is the beginning of, if not the complete, removal of that darkness.
*Adapted from Michael Berg’s Ten Luminous Emanations lesson 23.