The Lighter Side
"Time to get up everyone. It looks like we overslept. The sun is already shining brightly. Get up!"
Suddenly, the sun, stars, and moon vanish and it becomes pitch black.
"Why did you tell us to get up? It is still dark outside."
"It was bright and sunny a minute ago."
"Why don't you light a lamp so we can see what is going on."
The man tries to light a fire, but it goes out. He tries again and again, but each time it is snuffed out.
"Something is very strange here. I cannot even light a fire."
"Where are the sun and the moon? We worship them as gods. Surely they will come to our aid."
"Let us wait a few minutes. Our eyes will become accustomed to the dark and we will be able to see."
A few minutes pass.
"I still cannot see anything."
"Neither can I."
"This is not a normal darkness."
"You are right. There is something thick in here. Like a black cloud. I almost feel like I am choking. I need to sit down."
The Mitzri man tries, but he cannot sit down. He cannot move even one limb of his body. The thick black darkness is paralyzing. For the Jewish people, however, there is plenty of light.
"Have you seen any Mitzrim lately?"
"As a matter of fact, I have not. What is happening?"
"Come with me."
The two men go to the home of a Mitzri family. They see everyone standing absolutely still, frozen by the plague of darkness. The Jews however see perfectly well.
"Come, let's have a look around. Let's see where they hide the valuables. When we leave Mitzraim soon, we will ask them for their gold and silver. If they try to deny having any, we can show them where it is."
Just then, a third Jewish man walks into the home.
"What is the matter?"
"Many Jews are dying. We must bury them."
"What? Jews dying? Is this a plague?"
"In a manner of speaking. Certain Jews have gotten comfortable here in Mitzraim. They like the Mitzrim. They have taken money from them and become wealthy. They do not want to leave. Hashem cannot let them go out of Mitzraim. Only those who are willing to follow Hashem can go."
"Why can't they stay?"
"All Jews must leave this cursed land. Therefore, they are dying here and now. Come, let us bury them."
"But why are they dying now and not before or later?"
"So the Mitzrim cannot see them. They cannot think that we are also afflicted with plagues."
And so, the Jews buried their dead during the plague of darkness. The Mitzrim knew nothing about it. They were kept in the dark.
Kinderlach . . .
Hashem's actions are very exact. The plague of choshech (darkness) accomplished three very different things. It paralyzed the Mitzrim, it allowed the Jews to locate their valuables, and it allowed Hashem to secretly punish those Jews who did not want to leave Mitzraim. Hashem is just as wise an exacting as He was in those days. He places us in many circumstances that may seem bad because they are unpleasant. However, that is only one side of the story. Everything Hashem does is for the good. This suffering has a good side to it. We need only to trust Hashem, and know that He is always acting in our best interest. Then we will be happy with all of His deeds.
"Abba, why are you slowing the car?"
"Something very important happened at that upcoming intersection, Dovie. Ten years ago I was driving up this street and entered that intersection. A car came speeding through the red light and hit our car at full speed."
"Oh no. Who was in the car?"
"The entire family. A tremendous miracle happened and no one was hurt."
"I will never forget it. The vividness of the miracle is etched forever in my memory."
"In order to tell your children and grandchildren how I made a mockery of Mitzraim, and My signs that I placed upon them - that you may know that I am Hashem" (Shemos 10:2). The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh has a deep insight into this verse. The ultimate purpose of the makkos (plagues) was not to take revenge upon Paroh and his nation. Rather, the makkos were a sign to the Jewish people. We saw with our own eyes how Hashem ruled over all of the forces of nature. The wind, the water, the dust, the insects, the animals, and the fire were all at His command. Not just that, but He used them all to afflict and make a mockery of Paroh and his powerful nation, in a way that was never seen before by human eyes. This experience stayed etched in our memories for thousands of years.
Kinderlach . . .
People recall good events with fond memories. The day your baby brother took his first steps. The day of your Bar Mitzvah. The family reunion. We, the Jewish nation, do not have to search for good memories. Hashem has provided us with the best. The day we left Mitzraim. We remember it in our daily prayers, in the Kiddush on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and at the Seder night on Pesach. Think of these good memories whenever you can, kinderlach. Hashem is All Powerful, and He is ready to help you. Enjoy that warm feeling in your heart that comes from recalling fond memories.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2002 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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