dvar for parasha Bo 5783
“And the L-RD said unto Moses: ‘Stretch out thy hand toward the heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.’ And Moses stretched forth his hand toward the heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days; they saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.”– Exodus 10:21-23, JPS 1917 Tanach
This darkness originated in a heavenly place: “He made darkness His hiding-place, His pavilion round about Him; darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies” (Psalms 18:12, JPS; Ohr HaChayim, Shemot Rabbah 14). H’Shem is surrounded and hidden by atmospheric darkness. “Inasmuch as the darkness was of a supernatural kind, Moses did not consider it appropriate to raise his staff against supernatural phenomena” (Ohr HaChayim, Exodus 10:23, sefaria.org).
His presence within the clouds may also refer to our inability to draw close to Him, unless we enter a place of unknowing, wherein we cannot fully rely upon our intellect. Yet, in the darkness, we may gain insight into the nature of His essence. This unfamiliar place, where H’Shem may be found, may manifest on an experiential level, within the circumstances in our lives. Or, on an intellectual level, from new insights and conceptions of Him.
The darkness of our lives compels us to seek answers for ourselves; otherwise, we are bound to sit in the darkness, immovable, like the Egyptians, who were unable to move. When the inability to comprehend our circumstances, causes us to remain immobile, stuck in old patterns of thought or behavior, we relinquish our volition to the darkness.
Even so, when we enter the darkness, seeking to draw close to G-d, within the midst of our overwhelming challenges, we may find Him, there in the stillness of our heart, the center of the storm, and the quiet of the night. Night represents exile, a time of foreboding; yet, when we place our trust in G-d, our fears and insecurities may be replaced by the reassurance that everything is in His hands.
G-d calls us from the midst of the darkness, to draw us even closer to him, through our circumstances; by placing our faith in Him, we gain His presence in our lives. We will bring the light of understanding into our lives, every time we turn towards Him, instead of towards our fears, anxieties, and concerns.