Dominus Illuminatio Mea: Insights into Oxford's 16th century Motto

Friday, 16 September, 2016 - 9:27 am

Coat of arms.jpgThe motto of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, founded around 1167, is Dominus Illuminatio Mea. The motto that appears on the university's coat of arms depicting an open book surrounded by three crowns[1] is taken from the book of Psalms[2] and means: ‘The Lord is my light’. It has been in use at least since the second half of the 16th century[3] when there was a revival of interest in the Hebrew Bible and the Hebrew language, as a sacred language, at Oxford. This revival is reflected by a number of developments during that period. This includes the establishment of the Regius professorship of Hebrew at the University of Oxford by Henry VIII in 1546; the translation of the King James Bible by a committee of scholars at Oxford, together with Cambridge and London, in 1604-1611[4]; and more generally the rise of the Puritan movement in England during the 16th and 17th century that influenced scholars like Thomas Bodley (1545-1613), founder of the Bodleian Library, who was an Hebraist and inspired the library to become a depositary of one of the most important Hebraica collections in the world[5], John Selden (1584-1654), called by Professor Jason P. Rosenblatt ‘Renaissance England's Chief Rabbi[6], and John Milton(1608-1674), who was also proficient in Hebrew and praised Selden in 1644 as "the chief of learned men reputed in this land”[7]. This essay will aim to look at the Oxford motto and offer insight into what it represents from the point of view of Jewish sources. Due to the revival of interest in the Hebrew Bible in the 16th century at Oxford, this study will give insight into what may have been the significance of this motto to the university when it was first introduced in the 16th century.


Descriptions of G-d and university mottos


In scripture there are a number of references to G-d as a personal support and guide for the human being. G-d is described in the following numerous ways in the book of Psalms: a shepherd[8] that tends to all the needs of his flock[9]; a king[10] who answers to the call of his subjects; my shield[11]; righteous judge[12]; master[13]; my stronghold[14]; avenger of bloodshed[15]; righteous[16]; my strength[17]; my rock[18]; my fortress[19]; my rescuer[20]; the horn of my salvation[21]; the most high[22]; my support[23]; perfect[24]; pure[25]; humble[26]; G-d of my deliverance[27]; trustworthy[28]; my redeemer[29], among many others. Some of these terms refer to G-d in relation to a person’s material needs; some in support of a person’s spiritual needs, serving as a spiritual light to the person. In this essay we will look at a term which is found only on occasion in Psalms and was the particular description that was chosen for the purpose of the motto of the University of Oxford: The Lord is my light[30]. It is also interesting that some universities chose for their motto expressions of G-d as a support in a material sense, depicting G-d as a fortress and a source of trust and hope[31], whereas Oxford, among other universities[32], chose a more spiritual reference: the concept of G-d as a light to the person.


Ivan Illich interpretation


Ivan Illich (1926-2002), born in Vienna to a Croatian father and Sephardic Jewish mother, attempted to explain this motto in the 20th century. He writes[33]:


The relationship of things to G-d, who is light, must be understood. The thirteenth century is suffused by the idea that the world rests in G-d's hands, that it is contingent on Him. This means that at every instant everything derives its existence from His continued creative act. Things radiate by virtue of their constant dependence on this creative act. They are alight by the G-d-derived luminescence of their truth.


This profound interpretation – all of existence is contingent on G-d - can be found in broad terms in Maimonides’ Jewish legal code Mishneh Torah[34]:


The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Primary Being who brought into being all existence. All the beings of the heavens, the earth, and what is between them came into existence only from the truth of His being. If one would imagine that He does not exist, no other being could possibly exist.


In addition, the idea that ‘at every instant everything derives its existence from His continued creative act’ is found in the work of the Kabbalah, articulated by Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) and Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), based on Psalms: ‘Forever, G-d, Your word stand firm in the heavens[35]’. The Kabbalists, similarly, see the notion of total and constant dependence on G-d’s creative act in the metaphor of light, based on the principle that the qualities of light offer insight into the qualities of G-d[36]. According to Italian Kabbalist Rabbi Joseph Ergas (1685-1730)[37] one of these qualities includes the idea that light appears[38] to emit from the luminary without ever becoming separated from it.


‘The Lord is my light’ in Jewish thought


While in medieval Jewish thought this interpretation explains the concept of light in relation to the Divine and the notion of G-d as the eternal source of all existence, it would appear to be insufficient when explaining the meaning of this particular verse: ‘The Lord is my light’. I would like to argue that the personal subjective form of the verse ‘The Lord is my light’ appears to be referring to the light of the Divine that illuminates the person, not as the source of all of existence on the cosmic level, but rather on a personal level encountering the person’s soul. According to Ibn Ezra[39], the verse ‘the Lord is my light and my salvation’ refers to two aspects of G-d: the former attributes a radiance of G-d to the person’s soul; the latter refers to G-d as a material support of the body in distress. This interpretation of ‘The Lord is my light’ would certainly suggest the idea that G-d provides a spiritual light for the person’s soul on a subjective level, as opposed to a cosmic force in creation over all of existence. This concept may be understood through the analysis of similar sources in scripture that reference the light of G-d in relation to the person’s soul, as indicated by the ancient prophets and explained by the great masters of Chassidic thought of the 19th century.


There are a number of Biblical sources that express the notion that G-d is a light to the person: in Michah[40] it states: ‘Although I will sit in darkness, the Lord is a light to me’; in Numbers[41] it states: ‘May the Lord cause His countenance to shine upon you and favour you’; in Proverbs[42]: ‘The soul of man is the lamp of G-d’; and in Psalms it states[43]: ‘For You light my lamp; the Lord, my G-d, does light my darkness.’ Finally, the book of Psalms is the source to the Oxford motto[44]: “The Lord is my light”. These verses present the notion of G-d illuminating the soul of the person through a metaphor of kindling a physical lamp with a flame.


The metaphor of a lamp


The lamp metaphor presented in Psalms is a profound idea that becomes a central theme throughout the works of the Scripture to help understand the relationship between man and G-d. This idea is articulated in the work of Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch (1773 – 1827), the second leader of Chabad, as well as in the work of his father, the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812) - originating from the Jewish mystical work of the Zohar. We will explore in this essay how this idea is also found in the works of the Prophets through one of the most famous symbols of Judaism: the Menorah.


Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch


In Gates of Radiance (Sha’are Orah), Rabbi Dov Ber quotes the verse in Psalms[45]: ‘For You light my lamp; the Lord, my G-d, does light my darkness’ and elaborates on the metaphor of the lamp. In an oil lamp there are four components:

a. The wick - a strip of porous material through which oil is drawn upwards by capillary action to the flame in a lamp.

b. The flame that is caused by the burning of the oil close to the wick. This flame is of a darker colour as its close proximity to the wick makes it burn with greater intensity[46].

c. The flame that is of a brighter colour as it is less hot due to it being further away from the wick[47].

d. The oil that is drawn by the wick and becomes consumed as the fire burns. Without oil, the flame would not hold on to the wick and would become extinguished.


The four components of a lamp that when combined effuse light are a metaphor for the process that causes a person’s soul to be illuminated by Divine light:


a. The wick is the soul that has the potential to radiate light within the person.

b. The dark coloured flame that burns hotter close to the wick reflects the effect of the soul as it engages and struggles to transform one's negative emotions into a more spiritual, sublime orientation.

c. The brighter and purer flame is the effect of the Divine soul when it expresses its most sublime sacred attainment - surrender to the Divine when contemplating the Oneness of G-d.

d. The oil that feeds the wick, allowing it to effuse light, represents the process that draws the light of G-d to illuminate the soul. There are two processes that represent the oil that causes the soul to be kindled with the Divine: a. self-abnegation - the surrender of the self to the Divine when contemplating the oneness of G-d thereby, as mentioned earlier, transforming one's negative emotions into a more spiritual orientation. b. the performance of good deeds - Mitzvah. In both cases, they represent the flow of oil that enables the Divine radiance to illuminate the soul - the wick. Accordingly, the verse in Psalms[48]: ‘For You light my lamp; the Lord, my God, does light my darkness’ refers to the Divine that illuminates the soul of the person through ‘oil’, which may be the performance of good deeds or the surrender of the self before the Divine.


The Lord is my light


In the interpretation to the above verse in Psalms by the third leader of Chabad, Rabbi Menachem Mendel (1789-1866), known as the Tzemach Tzedek, son-in-law of Rabbi Dov Ber, he juxtaposes the interpretation of the verse[49]: ‘For You light my lamp’ with the verse[50]: ‘The Lord is my light’. This would suggest that the verse: ‘The Lord is my light’ is also a reflection of the process that creates the relationship between the soul and G-d: the person has the ability to provide oil through good deeds or self-abnegation, thereby precipitating the concept of ‘The Lord is my light’ – representing, as mentioned above, the light of the Divine that kindles the soul, similar to a flame that catches on to a wick when there is a drawing of oil from the lamp.


The Zohar – oil as good deeds


The metaphor of a lamp and wick that require oil for the soul’s connection with G-d is found in a teaching of the Kabbalistic work of the Zohar[51] based on the verse in Ecclesiastes[52]: “The wise man’s eyes are in his head.” The Zohar poses the question: Where else are a man’s eyes? The meaning of the verse, according to the Kabbalistic interpretation, is that the Divine Presence, the Shechinah, rests above the head of a person. Therefore, every wise man has his eyes i.e., his interest and concerns and hence also his speech concentrated “in his head,” i.e., in that light of the Shechinah, which rests and abides above his head. This is in contrast to what Solomon advises against[53]: ‘My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes keep my ways. Do not look at wine when it is red; when he puts his eye on the cup, it goes smoothly’.


The Zohar then continues that the person must be aware that this light kindled above his head i.e., the light that shines upon his soul, requires oil. For man’s body is the wick that retains the luminous flame and the light is kindled above it. In this context Solomon writes[54]: “Let not oil be lacking above your head.” This verse means to say that the light over one’s head requires oil, meaning the good deeds that man performs are the oil which supplies the light illuminating the soul. For this reason “The wise man’s eyes are (should be) in his head” - to ensure that he never lacks oil – i.e. good deeds - for this light[55]. 


Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi


In the magnum opus of the founder of Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidism, Tanya[56], by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, known also as The Baal HaTanya, it elaborates on the above teaching of the Zohar by posing two questions on the text of the Zohar: a. Why can’t the body itself act as oil for the kindling of the soul with the Divine presence? b. If the body can’t serve as oil, why can’t the soul itself serve as the oil for the wick by itself?


In response to the first question Rabbi Schneur Zalman argues the body as a physical being cannot be absorbed within the light of the Divine:


The meaning of this analogy comparing the light of the Shechinah to the light of a candle is clear to every intelligent person that just as it is true of the candle’s flame that it does not shed light nor is it retained by the wick, without oil, similarly, the Shechinah does not rest upon man’s body, which is compared to a wick, except through man’s performing good deeds. The body can only act as a wick, not as oil, as it is a coarse physical being which will not be absorbed within the light of the Shechinah, but will always remain separate from it. The good deeds that man performs however provide the oil.


In response to the second question, why the soul, as a spiritual being, cannot itself serve as oil, Rabbi Schneur Zalman answers that this is due to the soul’s self awareness – albeit a sublime spiritual awareness in love and awe of the Divine as opposed to good deeds that are performed objectively in nullification to the Divine Will. He writes:


It is evident from the Zohar that one’s soul, although a part of G‑d above, is insufficient to serve as oil for the wick by itself. The reason for this is that man’s soul is not, after all, completely nullified before G‑d and one with Him to the extent that it is capable of becoming absorbed within the G‑dly light. This is true even of the soul of the righteous, who serve G‑d with the loftiest forms of love and fear. Indeed, it is the soul’s very love of G‑d that emphasises its separateness; for love entails two separate entities, the lover and the beloved. Similarly with fear: there is one who fears, and another who is feared. Only good deeds, mitzvot, which are completely one with G‑d’s will, can serve as the oil which is absorbed within the flame of the light of the Shechinah that is kindled over man.


Elisha & the poor widow


This lamp metaphor is further found in Scripture in a story about an impoverished widow, left in debt by her husband and a creditor who claims her children as slaves in lieu of the debt. The prophet Elisha endows her miraculously with an abundance of oil to repay her debt and plenty more for her family to sustain themselves. The Book of Kings relates[57]:


Now a woman, of the wives of the disciples of the prophets, cried out to Elisha, saying, ‘Your servant, my husband, has died, and you know that your servant did fear the Lord; and the creditor has come to take my two children for himself as slaves.’ And Elisha said to her, ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me what you have in the house.’ And she said, ‘Your maidservant has nothing at all in the house except a jug of oil.’ And he said, ‘Borrow vessels for yourself from outside, from all your neighbours; do not borrow only a few empty vessels. And you shall come and close the door about yourself and about your sons, and you shall pour upon all these vessels; and the full one you shall carry away.’ And she went away from him and closed the door about herself and about her sons; they were bringing vessels to her and she was pouring. And it was when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel,’ and he said to her, "There is no other vessel.’ And the oil stopped. And she came and told the man of G-d: and he said, ‘Go sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons will live with the remainder.’


The pouring of oil as a metaphor


Jewish mysticism explains the above story as presenting a metaphor of a longing relationship between the Divine soul and G-d[58]. The widow in the story refers to the soul and the prophet refers to G-d. In this context, the soul (widow) is presented as calling out to G-d (Elisha). The purpose of the calling is due to the death of her husband. The husband in Hebrew is ish - etymologically similar to the Hebrew word aish - fire. The metaphor is meant to express the complaint that the flame – love of G-d – (husband) that the soul (widow) is accustomed to and longs for has been extinguished (died). Furthermore, the creditor, representing a claimant, has taken her two offspring in lieu of an outstanding dept. The claimant represents the materialistic desires of the animalistic soul within the person. The two sons represent the twin spiritual service of the Divine soul - love and fear of G-d. The story is thus representing the capture of the love and fear of G-d only to be replaced by a love and fear for the material world, instead of G-d.


In this context, G-d (Elisha) asks the Divine soul (widow): what her Divine soul has remaining that has not been corrupted by the material desires of the animalistic soul. The widow responds that she has just a single jar of oil. This, in the metaphor, refers to the essential nature of the soul that remains connected to G-d to the degree of self-sacrifice.


In response, G-d (Elisha) tells the soul (widow) to borrow empty vessels to contain new oil. This means that although the soul is devoid of any palpable love and fear of G-d (empty vessels), it should engage in good deeds and study of Torah (new oil), as that will serve as adequate vessels to contain the light of G-d for the longing soul. The good deeds will serve as the oil and wick for the fire, the Divine light, to be kindled and illuminate the soul[59].


A lamp that has no means to obtain oil


In the book of Zachariah a similar image is depicted, representing the Jewish people as a lamp, However, it poses the following question: in contrast to the story of Elisha, when man’s calling to G-d was answered with the advice that good deeds and Torah study will provide the oil for the flame - what if no oil is available altogether? The premise to this question is that it is man’s calling to G-d that causes G-d to illuminate man with the Divine light. Zachariah poses the question: is there the possibility of G-d to call man without man calling G-d first? The answer in the affirmative is represented by the following image[60]:


And the angel who spoke with me returned, and he awakened me as a man who wakes up from his sleep. And he said to me, "What do you see?" And I said, "I saw, and behold there was a candelabrum all of gold, with its oil-bowl on top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; seven tubes each to the lamps that were on top of it. And there were two olive trees near it; one on the right of the bowl, and one on its left.


Interpretation of the dream – G-d in search for man


In a Chassidic discourse by Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch, he explains[61] that Zachariah is referring to a time of exile and spiritual decline where there might not be any light on the candelabrum; i.e. there are not sufficient good deeds or Torah study that can serve as oil to kindle the soul of a person with the Divine. In such a case, Zachariah reassures, the oil that is necessary for the flame to kindle the lamp would be provided from ‘the nearby olive trees’ feeding into the oil-bowl standing above the candelabrum. This is suggesting the notion that although man may not be in a position to search for G-d, all is not lost: G-d will search for man, inspiring the person to good deeds and an awareness of G-d, thus serving as the ‘oil’ necessary for the illumination of the soul with the Divine[62].


‘For You light my lamp’ – G-d in search for man


We have thus explained there are two concepts indicated in the Hebrew scripture: a. Man calling for G-d to which G-d responds with His countenance and light. This is the context of the metaphor of the lamp in the Book of Kings and the Zohar, whereby man provides the oil and G-d the flame. b. The possibility that G-d calls for man, when man is in spiritual darkness[63]. This is the context of the metaphor of the lamp in the Book of Zachariah, whereby man has no oil and G-d provides the inspiration for the oil and the flame.


These two concepts are indicated in Psalms[64]: ‘For You light my lamp; the Lord, my G-d, does light my darkness.’ The first half of the verse ‘For You light my lamp’ seems to refer to the light of the Divine that kindles the soul in response to man providing oil on his own - through good deeds or Torah study. Similarly, I would like to argue that it is this concept that the Oxford motto[65] ‘The Lord is my light’ is referring to - man in search for G-d[66]. The latter half of the verse: ‘the Lord, my G-d, does light my darkness’ seems to refer to the context provided by Zachariah when man is in darkness – unable to call G-d - and G-d will search for man and light the darkness: G-d in search for man. 


The Lord is my light


Based on the above in-depth study into the metaphor of a lamp in the Hebrew scripture, the Oxford motto ’The Lord is my light’ suggests the notion that the study of wisdom of the Torah is a medium for providing the ‘oil’ so that the light of the Divine can illuminate man’s soul: man in search for G-d. It may be also in this context that the Oxford motto was proposed. As a centre of theological study, such wisdom was seen as a suitable ‘oil’ vessel for the light of the Lord to be drawn down and encountered.


Science and religion


A further consideration is that Oxford in the 16th century was undergoing changes reflected by those that were taking place in the world: the claim by Copernicus regarding the heliocentric model of the universe in 1543, as well as other advances in the sciences such as Vesalius’ pioneering research into human anatomy, early research in Europe into pulmonary circulation, detailed astronomical observations and William Gilbert’s research into the earth’s magnetic field. The motto may have been to emphasise the idea that scientific development and the existence of G-d were not in contradiction.  On the contrary, all scientific knowledge is predicated on the existence of G-d. In Jewish thought[67], wisdom has multiple meanings. Job writes[68]: ‘Fear of G-d is wisdom’. Similarly in Psalms[69] it states: ‘ The beginning of wisdom is fear of G-d’ and in Ethics of the Fathers[70]: ‘If there is no wisdom there is no fear and if there is no fear there is no wisdom.’ Judaism views wisdom as identified with and predicated on fear of G-d. The Zohar states[71] that wisdom is called light. The similarity between wisdom and light is that as light illuminates, metaphorically speaking, so does wisdom. Thus, in this context, wisdom, light and fear of G-d are identical. In the metaphor of the oil and the lamp then, the oil is fear of G-d (wisdom), which allows for the kindling of the soul with the Divine light: The Lord is my light.


In this context, the idea behind the motto in 16th century Oxford might have been the desire to address the nature of the pursuit of knowledge, especially at a time when academia might have been shifting away from theology to the sciences. In this struggle, it would have been important to establish the motto of this age-old institution representing the idea that the ultimate wisdom is the knowledge of G-d and furthermore all knowledge must be predicated on the knowledge of G-d, rather than the perception of the pursuit of the sciences in contradiction to the existence of G-d. Interestingly, this tension and need to reconcile between scientific knowledge and the existence of G-d as the source for all knowledge, is as relevant today as it was in the 16th century, when this motto was introduced.





[1] The origin of the three crowns on the coat of arms is unknown. In the context of the use of the Hebrew scripture for the motto, however, one can postulate that the three crowns are based on the statement in Ethics of the Fathers (4:13: Rabbi Shimon said: There are three crowns-the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship; but the crown of a good name surpasses them all. See also Leviticus Rabba 24.

[2] Chapter 27:1. This chapter of Psalms is recited, as an inspiration towards repentance, in the morning prayer (Shacharit) and afternoon prayer (Mincha) in the Hebrew prayer book during the Hebrew month of Elul that precedes the Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashana.

[3] accessed 20 Sep, 2016

[4] It was during this period that the university Bodleian Library was founded by Thomas Bodley (1545-1613), who, as mentioned in this essay, had knowledge of Hebrew. He learned Hebrew from Antoine Chevallier and inspired the library’s Hebraic collections. Bodley translated the Merton College Starr from Hebrew to English, as can be seen in the college archive, though around 1607 he instructed the librarian to “gette the help of the Jewe for the Hebrew catalogue”.

[5] As argued in a lecture at the Oxford University Chabad Society by former librarian of the Hebraic collection at the Bodlein Library, Dr. Piet van Boxel.

[6] See book by this title, Jason P. Rosenblatt, published by OUP, 2006.

[7] Milton’s Areopagitica

[8] 23:1

[9] Ibn Ezra on Psalms 23:1

[10] 5:3; 20:10

[11] 7:11; 18:3; 18:31; 18:47

[12] 7:12; 9:5

[13] 8:2; 8:10; 16:2

[14] 9:10; 18:3

[15] 9:13, Executor of retribution and subjugator of nations - Psalms 18:48

[16] 11:7

[17] 18:2-3

[18] 18:3; 18:32: 19:15. The Hebrew word sela and tzur are both translated as rock – see Rashi. Similar to a stone house that is impenetrable as a fortress to a person under threat, as opposed to a wooden house – see Metzudat Dovid.

[19] 18:3

[20] 18:3

[21] 18:3; Similar to horns that protects an ox from attack - see Metzudat Dovid.

[22] 18:14; 21:8

[23] 18:19

[24] 18:31

[25] 18:31

[26] 18:6

[27] 18:47

[28] 19:8

[29] 19:15

[30] 27:1

[31] Trinity Western University uses the motto ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our G-d’. In Latin: Turris Fortis Deus Noster. This motto is from Martin Luther's hymns, apparently paraphrasing Psalms (46:8), ‘The Lord of Hosts is with us; the G-d of Jacob is our fortress forever’. Similarly, Brown University uses ‘In deo speramus’, which means ‘In G-d we hope’, drawn from Psalms (27:14): ‘Hope for the Lord, be strong and He will give your heart courage, and hope for the Lord.’ This incidentally also seems to be the origin of ‘In G-d we trust’ on American coins and notes.

[32] Universities that use the light motif in their motto include Columbia University: In lumine tuo videbimus lumen, which means "In Thy light we see light" (Psalms 36:9); University of Washington: Fiat Lux in Latin, which means ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). Other mottos include University of Calgary and University of North Carolina’s motto from Psalms (121:2) ‘I will lift up my eyes’ or in Latin Mo Shùile Togam Suas; University of Aberdeen’s motto is Initium sapientiæ timor domini, which means ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Psalms 111:10). A Biblical motif used by University of Kansas is Videbo visionem hanc magnam quare non comburatur rubus, which means ‘I will see this great sight, how the bush does not burn’ (Exodus 3:3). Most universities however don’t use words from the Bible as their motto. Chicago University’s motto for example is Crescat scientia, vita excolatur, which means ‘Let knowledge grow from more to more, and so be human life enriched’ and Harvard, the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636, uses since 1836 a shield with the Latin motto “Veritas” (“Verity” or “Truth”) on three books. 

[33] Ivan Illich, "Guarding the Eye in the Age of Show" (PDF). Online Book, 2001, p. 16-17.

[34] Sefer Hamada 1:1-2

[35] Tanya, Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah ch. 1

[36] Mystical concepts in Chassidism – An Introduction to Kabbalistic Concepts and Doctrines in Igeret Hakodesh-Likutei Amarim-Tanya, part IV by Rabbi Jacob I. Schochet. Chapter 1. Light Metaphor. Spanish Kabbalist Rabbi Joseph Albo (c. 1380-1444) mentions five comparisons between the qualities found in light and the Divine (Ikkarim 2:29). The aspect of light that is relevant to Ivan Illich’s interpretation may be found in the work of Joseph Ergas, as indicated in the essay.

[37] Shomer Emunim 2:11

[38] This descriptive analysis of light is based on the general human perception of it, while an exact scientific analysis is not really relevant to our purposes. See similar point made by Jacob I. Schochet, ibid.

[39] Commentary to Psalms 27:1

[40] 7:8

[41] 6:25

[42] 20:27

[43] 18:29

[44] 27:1

[45] 18:29

[46] Rabbi Dov Ber refers to this as a "dark radiance."

[47] Rabbi Dov Ber calls this light "the light which illuminates" or the "bright radiance."

[48] 18:29

[49] 18:29

[50] 27:1

[51] Balak

[52] 2:14

[53] Proverbs 23:26; 23:31

[54] Ecclesiastes 9:8

[55] This teaching from the Zohar is based on a loose translation of the Tanya (ch. 35) in Lessons in Tanya by Sholom Weinberg and Yosef Weinberg.

[56] Chapter 35. The title ‘Tanya’ isafter the initial word of the book, quoting a Baraitic source. The work is also known by two other names: Book of the Intermediates (Beinonim) and Likutei Amarim - Collected Discourses. Published in Slavita 1796.

[57] II Kings 4:1-7

[58] Ma’amarei Admur Hazaken Haktzarim (p.137) by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi

[59] In this context the lamp would be the body and the wick and oil that holds the fire would be the good deeds.

[60] Zachariah 4:1

[61] Gates of Radiance, Ki imcha mekor chaim (With You is the source of life), p. 53

[62] See G-d in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism by Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972)

[63] This is contrary to the notion that Judaism, as opposed to Christianity, is only about man in search for G-d.

[64] 18:29

[65] Psalms 27:1

[66] This is also indicated is the subsequent passages in the chapter, which explicitly speak of man calling for and seeking G-d. See 27:4-8.

[67] See Gates of Radiance by Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch, p.40

[68] 28:28

[69] 111:10

[70] 3:17

[71] Genesis, 30b


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