“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ― C.G. Jung

Before there was psychoanalysis there was the Torah. Before there was Jung there was Jacob. Almost all of Jacob’s meaningful encounters happen within the dark. Jacob, after all, carries with him so much inner turmoil. He has guilt about lying to his father, remorse for having duped his brother and anxiety about being out in the world, alienated from his family, alone and fearful about his future. 

 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. -Genesis 32:25

There is no way for Jacob to move forward in his life, through his guilt, remorse, anxiety and fear other than through the dark. He can’t go around it. He can’t circumvent it. He can no longer avoid it, deny it or run from it. No matter how many wonderful things he throws at it or into it (marriage, parenting, work….) “one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light.” There is only one way to definitively deal with the darkness and that is to face, enter and wrestle your way through the darkness – no matter how difficult, terrifying or painful that might be. It is only through making the darkness conscious that Jacob experiences transformation, leaving behind his fear and becoming a warrior of light – Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for as a warrior you have wrestled with God and with men, and have prevailed. Genesis 32:29

Often we search for new spiritual practices, a different therapist, cutting edge technologies, alternative therapies, a change of relationship, more religion, less carbohydrates…..all as a way to deal with our inner darkness, all of which may, or may not, have their place. At the end of the day, and well into the night, however, there is ultimately no magic pill, bullet or belief that can take the place of simply showing up, entering our dark fears and wrestling with them on our own until we make the darkness conscious, until the darkness gives way to light.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi B


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