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The Ninth Plague - Darkness - חושך

Parshat Bo continues the account of the 10 plagues - עשר מקות - that God brought on the Egyptians. The ninth plague, darkness, חושך, (Shmot 10:21-29), is a powerful and symbolic event in the story of the Israelites' liberation from Egypt. This plague was a punishment for Pharaoh and the Egyptians for their refusal to let Bnei Yisrael go, and it serves as a reminder of God's power and control over all aspects of the world.


The darkness in this plague is described as being so thick that one could not see one's own hand in front of their face. Rashi explains that this darkness was not natural but rather it was a miraculous darkness that was brought about by God. He notes that this darkness affected the Egyptians, Bnei Yisrael, who were protected by God, were able to see in the darkness.


Ramban, explains that the plague of darkness was a punishment for Pharaoh and the Egyptians for their idolatry and their refusal to acknowledge God's power. He notes that the Egyptians worshiped the sun as a god and the plague of darkness was a way for God to demonstrate his power over their false gods. He also explains that the darkness was a way for God to show Bnei Yisrael that he is the true source of light and that they should put their trust in him.


The plague of darkness also has a symbolic meaning. The Midrash (Shmot Rabbah 10:6) states that the darkness represents the exile and the oppression of the Jewish people. Just as the Egyptians were in darkness during the plague, so too, the Jewish people have been in darkness during their exiles and oppression throughout history. But just as the Israelites were protected and able to see in the darkness, so too, the Jewish people will always be protected by God and will ultimately be redeemed.


The plague of darkness can also be seen as a reminder of the importance of clinging to our faith in God, even in the darkest of times. Just as Bnei Yisrael were able to see in the darkness, we too can find light and guidance in our lives through our faith in God. This ninth plague highlights the idea that God is the only true source of light and that faith in him is essential.

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