Parshat Bo reveals the plague of darkness upon the Egyptians. “Thick darkness descended upon all the land of Egypt… People could not see one another, and … no one could get up from where he was…” (Exodus 10:22-23).
We wonder: Why was the darkness so devastating?
Perhaps the worst effects of the plague were not the physical darkness, but a psychological darkness that prevented one person from seeing another. Such darkness makes a person “incapable of spiritual growth, incapable of rising from where he is currently. In Jewish legal discussion … ‘dawn’ is defined as ‘when one can recognize the face of a friend’” (BT Berachot 9b; Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary p. 377).
College can be a time when a person experiences the darkness of depression. What can we do to help a person rise up from this darkness and see the dawn?
When a person can see his neighbor and recognize them as a friend, truly then the plague of darkness has lifted.