Chayei Sarah: Twilight and Uncertainty

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
2 min readNov 15, 2022
the twilight sky

Auschwitz survivor Dr. Edith Eger once said:

“We don’t cover garlic with chocolate, there is no forgiveness without rage, but love conquers all.”

Her words recall verses from Song of Songs:

“Let me be a seal upon your heart, like the seal upon your hand. For love is fierce as death, passion is mighty as Sheol; its darts are darts of fire, a blazing flame.”[1]

We may be hesitant, in the face of life’s hardships, big and small, to trust in the healing power of love. And yet, if we allow this Dr. Eger’s words, her hard-won wisdom, to enter our hearts, we might remember that only love — for ourselves and for others — is powerful enough to keep us going and fuel life itself.

Our daily mantra might even echo Dr. Eger’s herself:

“I wake up each morning, look in the mirror and ask myself: ‘Do you want to be soft and warm or cold and stiff?’”

In this week’s Parashah, Isaac must have felt cold and stiff, internally. His trauma after the Akeidah and his sadness after the loss of his mother must have been swirling within him that time he went out into the field at twilight, Bein HaShmashot, the liminal space the ancient rabbis described as:

“…a period of uncertainty. It is uncertain whether it consists of both day and night, it is uncertain whether it is completely day, and it is uncertain whether it is completely night.”[2]

Perhaps Isaac entered the in-between of twilight because its undefined state mirrored his own. Perhaps he longed to feel whole, to be able to engage more fully in what was happening around him in the world, even after what had happened to him in it. Especially because of that.

Let us turn to another sage, the Childlike Empress from Michael Ende’s majestic The Neverending Story, whose kingdom is destroyed, and yet hopes. She is asked, in the face of loss, “Why is it dark?”

May her response light a path forward for each of us in this complicated world: “In the beginning it is always dark.”

[1] Song of Songs 8:6

[2] Shabbat 34b