Photo Credit: Jewish Press
Rivka Press Schwartz

One of the unanticipated changes of life as I’ve hit middle age is a weirdly shifted sleep schedule. I wake up nearly every morning at 4 or 4:30 a.m., and so daily I get to see the day breaking through my kitchen window. Before the demonstrative beauty of sunrise, there’s the more subtle “morning twilight” – when the darkness just begins to lift, and then, gradually, the first glimmers of light are visible on the horizon.

In the haftarah we read on Yom Kippur, Yeshayahu, talking about the ultimate redemption, says, “Then your light will break like dawn.” Chazal explain that just as the dawn comes gradually, a little at a time, before the full light of day, so will our redemption come gradually, a little at a time. Every morning, looking out over the East River as the first lifting of darkness and lightening of the sky explodes into the brightness of sunrise, I am reminded of this promise. It’s not why I wake up then, but it’s a nice bonus.

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Dr. Rivka Press Schwartz is associate principal at SAR High School and a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.