In this week's parasha Moshe Rabbeinu recounts the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai. Chazal ask (Tanchuma Ki Sisa:36) when Moshe was atop Har Sinai for forty days and nights, how did he know if it was day or night? They answer that when Hashem learned with him the Written Torah he knew that it was day and when they learned the Oral Torah together he knew that it was night.
For some reason, it was clear to Chazal that Moshe didn't use the sun and moon to determine the time of day. Rav Wolbe sights a pasuk in Yeshaya (60:19) to explain the above Chazal: "The sun will no longer be for you the light of day and brightness, and the moon will not illuminate for you. Hashem will be an eternal light for you."
In the future, the entire Bnei Yisrael will achieve the level that Moshe Rabbeinu achieved atop Har Sinai. The brightness generated by the spiritual revelations at that time will be so great that the sun will appear dark in comparison! Thus, when Moshe studied with Hashem, he was surrounded by a much greater light than the light provided by the sun and the moon, and the only way he could have known the time of day was by the material being studied.
We find a similar idea mentioned elsewhere in the parasha. "Lest you raise your eyes to the heavens and you see the sun, the moon, and the stars... and you will be drawn astray and bow to them and worship them, which Hashem your G-d has apportioned to all the nations under the heavens. But you, Hashem has taken... to be a nation of heritage for Him" (Devarim 4:19-20). The Maharal (Gur Aryeh) explains that in reality the light provided by the sun, moon and stars was created for the other nations. Hashem does not guide them, rather He linked their existence to the natural world. While Bnei Yisrael also enjoy the benefits of the sun's light, their path is meant to be illuminated by Hashem Who guides them through life.
The basic idea rings true in every generation. The other nations live within the realm of nature. In contrast, Bnei Yisrael live above the realm of nature. Chazal refer to Torah as something which is "above the sun" and thus those who study it and perform its precepts are "above the sun" and the laws of nature. Appreciate our unique standing and take advantage of the fact that there is no situation that Hashem cannot change for the better, regardless of what the natural course of events might indicate!
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Rav Wolbe points out another lesson that can be gleaned from this pasuk. The celestial orbs were given to the other nations as a means of illuminating the world. This seems to imply that Bnei Yisrael were given the sun and moon for different reasons.
Moreover, the pesukim in parashas Bereishis (1:14-15) indicate this quite clearly. "Hashem said, 'Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the heaven to separate between day and night and they shall serve as signs and for festivals and for days and years. And they shall serve as luminaries.'" Rashi comments that in addition to their serving as signs for the festivals, they also will serve as luminaries.
The main reason that the luminaries were created was to aid Bnei Yisrael in performing the mitzvos. They help determine the proper time to say krias shema and when the Yomim Tovim will fall out. The spiritual facet is the fundamental aspect while the physical advantage is only secondary!
This Dvar Torah is dedicated as azechusfor Yocheved bas Chana Leah for azivug hagun b'karov!