Welcome to the Blogsphere: From Darkness

I’m interested in non-pharmaceutical, soul-based responses to depression.  There are a few programs integrating the science and spirit of mental health and a few projects here and there, mostly the spheres are far apart.  Welcome to Borei Hoshech “Who Creates Darkness.” (found via Jewschool). From the ABOUT section:

This blog explores the weekday morning prayers in light of the contributors’ personal experiences with depression and anxiety, complemented by an analysis of what traditional Jewish sources have to say.

In addition to exploring the intersection between tefillah [prayer] and depression, an important secondary goal of this blog is to create a virtual community around reflections on Jewish religious practice in general from the point of view of people who have experienced depression and other mental illnesses.

The blog’s title, “Borei Hoshech” or “בוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ,” means “who creates darkness,” and comes from the first blessing before the morning Shema. The full blessing reads:


The blog’s title, “Borei Hoshech” or “בוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ,” means “who creates darkness,” and comes from the first blessing before the morning Shema. The full blessing reads:

ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם. יוצר אור ובורא חושך

“Blessed are You, God, King of the World, who fashions light and who creates darkness, who makes peace and who creates everything.”

It reflects belief in a God who creates darkness and depression, as well as light and peace.


If you want to share this with other people and can’t quite remember how to spell “Borei Hoshech,” we don’t blame you! This blog can also be reached through http://www.fromdarkness.org, which is much easier to spell and remember. This redirect was inspired by the phrase “מאפלה לאורה,” which appears in various contexts throughout traditional Jewish literature, also has a strong connection to the idea of prayer.

:תלמוד ירושלמי, מסכת ברכות, פרק רביעי, הלכה א

ר’ שמואל בן נחמני אומר: ממה למדו שלוש תפילות? כנגד שלוש פעמים שהיום משתנה על הבריות. בשחר צריך אדם לומר: “מודה אני לפניך, ה’ אלוקיי ואלוקי אבותיי, שהוצאתני מאפלה לאורה”. במנחה צריך אדם לומר: “מודה אני לפניך… כשם שזיכיתני לראות החמה במזרח, כן זכיתי לראותה במערב (נוטה לצד מערב).” בערב צריך לומר: “יהי רצון לפניך, ה’ אלוקיי ואלוקי אבותיי, כשם שהייתי באפלה והוצאתני לאורה היום בבוקר כן תוציאני מאפלה לאורה מחר בבוקר

Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Brachot, 4:1:

Rabbi Shmuel the son of Nachmani says: From where do we learn that we should pray three times a day? From the three times that the day changes for the creations. With sunrise, one must say: “I am grateful to you, God and God of my ancestors, that you brought me out of darkness to light.” In the afternoon, one must say: “I am grateful to you that just as I merited to see the sun in the East, so may I merit to see it in the West.” In the evening, one must say: “May it be your will, God and God of my ancestors, that just as I was in the dark and you brought me out into the light of day this morning, so may you bring me from darkness to light tomorrow morning.

The secondary way of reaching this blog reflects the hope that all of us who are in darkness may merit to see light–soon and every morning.

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2 Responses to “Welcome to the Blogsphere: From Darkness”

  1. Athos Says:

    I’m interested in non-pharmaceutical, soul-based responses to depression.

    I don’t know about soul-based, Scott, but having full spectrum lighting around sure seems to help me at this time of year: in the kitchen, bedroom, over your favorite reading chair, at the desk.

  2. Scott Says:

    Thanks Athos. I left my full spec. light in DC while up in the Berkshires for a couple of months. Didn’t even think about it because I knew I couldn’t fit it on the train. Working hard most days on practical stuff, that helps. Your house seems to be quite well equipped. I’m not motivated enough to be one of the “winter vacation in hot spots” people. The sparse terrain here is refreshing though I need to find where crowds gather in the evenings here. I’ve got a whole week before the next retreat arrives.

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