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The Spiritual Corner

Many of us remember the epic Cecil B. Demille film, The Ten Commandments, and the way it depicts the bondage and redemption of the Israelite people in Egypt. We remember the plagues God visited upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, how God wanted to deliver the people from slavery, but also a stern and clear message to both Egyptians and Israelites alike. I find the ninth plague (of ten) of darkness particularly powerful in the fear it commands as well as in the manner our text describes it. The Torah says that the darkness God extends over Egypt is “so thick it could be touched.” And yet, for the Israelites, there was not only regular, but actually extraordinary light within their dwellings. One way to make sense of this is almost as a line in the air, with pitch blackness on one side and bright light on the other. But the interpretation I love the most says that this wasn’t so. If there was this darkness there, it was uniform, universal for all. What was the difference then in the Israelite camp? The difference was this: whereas the Egyptians were paralyzed by the darkness, unwilling and unable to move or do anything for themselves or others, the Israelites, maneuvering through the very same darkness, took the opportunity to look out for each other, check in on their neighbors and friends, help out those in need. 

As the literal darkness of the winter season and the figurative darkness of this pandemic begin to show signs of receding, I pray that we can be the sources of light in the darkness for each other that we all need so deeply. 

Sat, April 17 2021 5 Iyar 5781