Parshat Bo

Torah Reading for Week of January 6-12, 2019
“Silent Prayer in the Darkness”
by Rabbi Mindie Snyder, ’15

The views expressed in this drash are those of the author. We welcome Torah insights and teachings from all viewpoints, and encourage dialogue to strengthen the diversity of our academy.

Darkness was created by The Holy One of Blessing, just as light was created by The Holy One of Blessing. One is not necessarily better than the other because each serves a purpose. However, the presence of darkness in any form can cause distress within us. Darkness can be foreboding. We can fear that which cannot be seen. The last three of ten plagues occur in relationship to darkness. Parshat Bo introduces us to darkness that is created by a swarm of locusts so thick, the sun is obscured. When the final plague -the death of the first born- arrives, it occurs in the depths of night. Darkness can be a result of Divine intervention, but not always. It can also occur by human actions, creating a void that siphons away vision and sound.


Once upon a time, after many years of adventures around the world, the two lovers awakened to the presence of one another. Hand in hand, they began a new adventure, expressing gratitude for the precious moments together. The sun shone in the day and the stars illuminated the night. They shared joy and laughter, poetry and music, peace and harmony. They imagined finishing each other’s sentences for the rest of their days.


Suddenly, the dark of a moonless night appeared without the stars and the morning came without a sunrise. One of the lovers had grown weary from the conflicts that surrounded them. Fearing the depth of their love, the Divine treasures of strength, security and protection within it became obscured. Attacked from the North, South, East and West, they collapsed and fell upon their sword. It was easier to fall. All too often, the natural pull of gravity can ensure victory for opposing forces. Disappearing into their historical patterns, they convinced themselves that it was all for the best, even though they promised their Beloved that would never, ever happen. Then, the rains came unabated. Day and night were indistinguishable behind the clouds. And God cried, for God could not change what man had done. God knew that courage was enfolded in the holy gift of free will to each person. Although the lovers had miraculously united after a lifetime of separation and trials, they could not venture forth together if one or the other was incomplete, or afraid. Great love calls one to arise and shine with equally great commitments to refining one’s self and developing one’s courage. Darkness descended and all was silent.


Love of my life
You’ve hurt me
You’ve broken my heart
And now you leave me…


Bring it back
Bring it back…


Freddie Mercury / Queen (1975)


Darkness was created by The Holy One of Blessing, just as light was created by The Holy One of Blessing. Darkness can come by day or by night, so can light. The core narrative of our people illustrates a journey from slavery- Mitzrayim, the narrow, familiar, spaces holding us captive – to freedom and a life fulfilled: the opportunity and responsibility to become all we can be. Our ancestors have taught us that the journey toward our promise may be longer or more difficult than desired. Whether long or short, we will be accompanied by both darkness and light. With blessings of clarity or obscurity, we can chose to rise up, go down, move forward, turn around. We can chose to defy gravity, or be subjected to it. Parshat Bo, referencing forms of darkness, reminds us that the way out is through; that growth is possible in the darkest of times; that God’s miracles may seem hidden amidst destruction, but they will come back and you will know.