The Light is Hidden For the Righteous so That the Wicked Cannot use it
It is written, “G-d saw that the light was good, and G-d separated between the light and the darkness” (Genesis 1:4). Concerning this verse Rashi wrote: “Here too the Aggadaic explanation is necessary. He saw that it was not fitting that the wicked should use it [the light]. He set it apart for the righteous in the World to Come.”
Let us also examine the following text: “Rabbi Elazar said, ‘With the light that the Holy One, blessed be He, created on the first day, a man could see from one end of the world to the other. When the Holy One, blessed be He, saw the generation of the flood and that of the dispersal, He saw that their deeds were wicked and He hid it from them, as it is written: “As light is withheld from the wicked” [Job 38:15]. For whom did He hide it? For the righteous in the future, as it is written: “And G-d saw that it was good,” and there is no “good” but the “righteous”, as it is written: “Tell [each] righteous man that it is good” [Isaiah 3:10]. He rejoiced when He saw the light that He had hidden for the righteous, as it is written: “The light of the righteous will rejoice” [Proverbs 13:9]’ ” (Hagigah 12).
Rav Eliyahu Dessler asks why the Holy One, blessed be He, hid this light. Would it not have been better to leave it? In that way, the wicked would have acknowledged the reality of G-d, and this light would have prevented them from committing wicked deeds. Even if they had acted wickedly, they would have immediately repented.
I thought that I would answer by responding that in the World of Action (Zohar II:258a), there exists no simple way of ensuring that a person will not sin, for he has to work hard to reach a state of perfection and accomplish all his duties in this world.
Moreover, even if the light had not been hidden, that would not have prevented the wicked from pursuing their evil ways. The proof is that even without the hidden light, if someone goes to the trouble of looking around a little, he can easily conceive of the existence of a Creator by realizing that “this great city” must have a “governor”. As King David wrote, “When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars…” (Psalms 8:4).
In addition, even the generation of the desert – who were filled with knowledge (Vayikra Rabba 9:1) and witnessed with their own eyes miracles and wonders, and saw that the Holy One, blessed be He, spoke with Moses face to face (Numbers 12:8), without mentioning the fact that they were surrounded by clouds of glory – even they ignored all this and sinned, going so far as to protest against Moses and Aaron. What was the reason for this? It was because of their material concerns, yet they paid no attention to the fact that their behavior was considered as a protest against the Shechinah itself. In fact, Rabbi Chanina bar Papa said, “Whoever rebels against his Rav, it is as if he rebelled against the Shechinah, as it is written: ‘Not against us are your complaints, but against the L-RD’ [Exodus 16:8]”. Rabbi Abahu said, “Whoever has doubts about his Rav, it is as if he had doubts about the Shechinah, as it is written: ‘The people spoke against G-d and Moses’ [Numbers 21:5]” (Sanhedrin 110a). It is only though G-d’s kindness that the generation of the desert was not wiped out.
We may ask why everything that the Children of Israel saw and lived through did not have enough of an affect to strengthen their faith to the point that they would be incapable of sinning. We may even ask why not everyone has tried to contemplate the beauty of Creation and its Creator.
We must reply that the reason is because of the power of habit. It is this that blinded and prevented them from reflecting upon the greatness of the Creator. Even though they observed Torah mitzvot, they did so by rote – through habit – and did not put much thought into it.
This is why the Holy One, blessed be He, did not reveal the hidden light to the entire world, bur reserved it for the righteous in the future. Even if the light had remained, the wicked would have become accustomed to it. In that case, not only would the light have not brought the wicked closer to a knowledge of G-d, they could possibly have used it to commit even more evil.
As for those who had no intention of acting wickedly, they could have also sinned and used this light for evil purposes because of their ignorance and inability to distinguish between good and evil. In fact, without the Torah, there is no way of making such a distinction. What can this be compared to? To a child who was given a handful of diamonds and precious stones, and who because of limited intelligence and understanding threw them all into the garbage. And why? Because the child put them in his mouth and discovered that they did not taste good. The child does not know what purpose they serve. Even if the child is given something refined and delicious to eat, he can also throw it away because he lacks understanding.
The same applies to a person without Torah. He is exactly like a child lacking understanding – like one who doesn’t know how to make proper distinctions – to the point that even if he could use the light to see from one end of Creation to the other, he risks using it harmfully because he doesn’t understand its value. This is why a person must toil in Torah and mitzvot in this world, the World of Action, to learn how to appreciate the Torah. He will then merit this same very light that the Holy One, blessed be He, hid for the righteous. However the main thing is not the study of Torah alone; by Torah study a person must arrive at a level such that he recognizes the Creator and understands the depths of His secrets. A person will then have his reward beginning from this present world, as the verse states, “Taste and see that the L-RD is good” (Psalms 34:9), and his principle reward will be kept for the World to Come.