The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow

  • Rabbi Daniel Lapin
  • Oct 8, 2008

I have been blessed with a daughter named Tamara. You won’t be surprised to hear that people meeting her regularly break out singing – “The sun will come out tomorrow…” from the musical Annie.

The song reflects Annie’s optimism and eagerness to meet her future, but if she studied ancient Jewish wisdom, she would actually sing, “The sun will come out today”.  Such a change would not only save my daughter from well-intentioned but unmusical humorists, it would also more accurately reflect a Biblical understanding of what a day really is.

In the first chapter of Genesis, during the seven days of creation, the phrase “And it was evening and it was morning …” is repeated seven times.  First comes evening, and thereafter, morning.  God is teaching us that a complete day begins with the evening.

For this reason, the Jewish Sabbath begins as the sun goes down on Friday evening and ends Saturday night. Early Americans, deriving guidance from the Bible also celebrated their Sabbath from sunset of the day before.

The New England Sabbath always began at sunset on Saturday night and ended at the next sunset.... (George M. Stephenson, The Puritan Heritage [New York: MacMillan Co., 1952], 181-182)

This is not surprising considering that Colonial Americans were avid Bible scholars, often learning the text and the oral transmission in the original Hebrew.  My Genesis Journeys series is how I make this Hebraic heritage which was known to early American Christians, completely accessible to their modern day counterparts in (what I hope is) an engaging and useful manner.

Now let’s examine the moral message behind God declaring that the twenty-four hour period we call a day should run, not from midnight to midnight, or from morning to morning but from sunset to sunset?

One message God conveys to us with this information is particularly apt as we find ourselves in challenging economic times and times of international peril. 

It is a message of hope.  Almost everyone recognizes night and day to be metaphors for harder and easier times.  Don’t we all feel more optimistic when the sun is shining? We smile more easily and in general feel more cheerful about life.  By contrast, in the dark we often feel a little vulnerable and unsure of ourselves. Disaster seems to loom much more readily.

We all have a choice in how we choose to live our lives.  We can assume that regardless of how blessed our today is, we nonetheless ought to fill our hearts with gloom because tomorrow is sure to bring disaster.  Alternatively, we can know that whatever we must contend with today, tomorrow will be brighter. 

One way of viewing tomorrow suggests that our final destination as the human race is some inevitable catastrophe and utter doom. The alternative is to see ourselves, despite whatever bumps we hit on the way, moving towards a glorious period of Divine redemption, a Messianic age of life and universal goodness.

Nobody knows for sure what tomorrow will bring.  The question is what view of tomorrow we should welcome into our hearts today.  And few things influence the choices we make and the quality of our lives today, as much as the vision of tomorrow that we keep alive in our hearts.

God’s message to humanity that He embedded in the seven days of creation is that light follows darkness.  There may very well be treacherous and scary shoals to navigate, but people of faith can know that the final outcome will be a safe and sunny harbor.   I am fortunate in that my daughter Tamara helps me hold on to that thought no matter what else happens.  Yes, the sun certainly will come out today!

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