Darkness is the absence of light.  It is not real. The less light the more real the darkness becomes.  Sometimes the light is so diminished that the darkness takes over and the abyss is traversed.

The world is a place where G-dliness is concealed.  It’s critical that it is that way so we have a self consciousness that allows us to serve G-d. Otherwise we’d be consumed by the reality of Hashem’s Oneness and there would be no us.

In that process known as tzimtzum, the absence of conscious light can leave us feeling like we are floundering in darkness.  Sometimes the darkness is so great that we begin to see the darkness as real.
This is the real definition of challenge and struggle.  It is the disconnect between our consciousness and the true reality.

“Judgement is sweetened in its source”.

In the Parsha, the Jews complain – again.  A plague of snakes attack the Jews, bite them and poison them. 

Hashem instructs Moshe to place a copper snake on a staff (the source for the caduceus).  When they looked at the snake, ie. looked Heavenward, they were healed.

Snakes are all around us.  They epitomize the voices that tell us that “what you see is what you get”.  You just need to survive the rough patches.  There is no purpose, there is no G-d, this is a ship without a captain.  Or they have even darker voices that say, “this is your fault, your bad, your worthless, all the things your parents said about you are true”.

Look Heavenward. There is a G-d behind all of our challenges and there is a purpose.  Connect the snake to its source, G-d, and the light will begin to shine forth.  Healing is ahead.

Ps. What do you think about this as a High Holiday Theme?
Heal. Repair. Renew 
Good Shabbos!
Rabbi Mendel Schusterman

Thanks to my brother, Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman, of Chabad Intown, Atlanta, for sharing the above thought.