The Real Plague of Darkness – Parshat Bo
There have been times while writing this blog when I was concerned that perhaps a time would come when I would no longer see new ideas to write about in the parsha. Thankfully, I have been surprised over and over to the point where I feel that I am led to believe that I will never run out of topics from the parsha to share.
During the plague of darkness, the Torah tells us that it was soooo dark ( how dark was it??) that they could not even see each other – "a man could not see his brother."1 Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, the first Rebbe of the Ger Hasidic dynasty, asks why this note was added. It could have noted that they couldn’t find their homes, their food, their water, their clothing, etc. What makes finding one's brother more noteworthy than the other options? As human beings, we need others. And we need to help others. We cannot allow ourselves to live in isolation. The Egyptians, during the duration of the plague, could only see themselves – the truest measure of darkness, says Rabbi Alter.2
The concept of not feeling isolated is so basic to human existence and is considered by some as one of the 5 basic existential questions that we deal with throughout life.3 (of course 'meaning' is also one of the big 5)
If we take the flip side of that concept, we can say that in order to lead an enlightened life one needs to "see" his brother (or sister) and be present for them. That will truly speak to one's own path to meaning which, says Dr. Viktor Frankl, must be through consciously being of service to others. That will help one to fulfill his own meaning and without which he will not be able to reach his full meaning potential. Life is not simply about finding one's self. Rather we find meaning in noting our own strengths and how we utilize those strengths to help others.
To live with light and to avoid our own individual plague of darkness, we must open our eyes, ears and hearts to our fellow man.
1. Shemot 10:23
2. This idea was introduced to me on a class by rabbi shaya katz and can be found at this address https://www.yutorah.org/sidebar/lecture.cfm/944166/rabbi-shaya-katz/peshischa-on-the-parsha-know-that-i-m-here-for-you/
3. This concept can be found in this article - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242251661_Introducing_Science_to_the_Psychology_of_the_SoulExperimental_Existential_Psychology
*Image link from pixabay
<a href="https://pixabay.com/users/Hans-2/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1654074">Hans Braxmeier</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=1654074">Pixabay</a>
Have A Great Shabbat!