Two Line Torah: Bo 5776– Darkness and Light



January 10, 2016

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.

Rabbi Andrea Steinberger serves Hillel at the University of Wisconsin as rabbi.