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Parashat Bo - 5773

My friends,

This Shabbat, we read Parashat Bo which describes the last three plagues - Locusts, Darkness and the Death of the First Born. It also contains instructions on how to observe Pesah on the night of the Exodus and the details of Pesah to be observed in future years.

All the eight plagues that preceded the plague of Darkness brought suffering and destruction to the Egyptians. What was the damage that darkness could have brought upon Egypt that it made Pharaoh almost concede and allow the Israelites to leave? He had one condition - that the Israelites cannot take their flocks and herds. Moses explained that they need to take all their sheep and cattle for the festival. Pharaoh broke up the negotiations and warned Moses that he would be killed if he should show up at the palace again.

I believe that the three-day darkness was a symbol of the extreme positions between Egypt and the Israelites. The Israelites were clear in their request. They wanted to leave Egypt and be free of slavery. The Egyptians were not ready to let go of their slaves. They were frozen in time. They were paralyzed in their thinking and were willing to suffer whatever punishment was thrown at them. They could not imagine a society that did not benefit from the work of the slaves. Only when the death of the first born brought so much suffering and pain to every home were they willing to finally let go. And even then, after the Israelies left, Pharaoh and the Egyptians would have a change of heart again, for when the Israelites left and headed toward the wilderness, Pharaoh and the Egyptians said, "What have we done? Releasing the Israelites from serving us?" And they pursued them again and Pharaoh and his army met their worst punishment at the Crossing of the Red Sea.

Our message from this Parasha can be as follows: The last few years, America has gone from one crisis to another. Because of the extreme ideological differences among our politicians, we are frozen in time, a thick darkness has descended upon the country. We hear of fiscal cliffs, debt crisis, and horrible predictions about the future and our ability to care for our young and for our old, and we cannot seem to find a solution.

We need to come out of this darkness. Let us hope that our leaders can find ways to go forward and find the light to solve the problems that face us.

The message is also for each and everyone of us. Whatever trouble we may face, don't let it paralyze you. There is light if we only come out of the darkness and go forward.

Shabbat Shalom,