Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)

“…Let the men go to worship their God.  Are you not yet aware that Egypt is lost?” (Exodus 10:7)

This week’s Torah perspective comes from Carol Folkerth, Executive Director of the JCC of Greater Columbus.

Parashat Bo introduces the ninth plague, darkness, with an odd statement:  “Then God said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky that  there may be darkness over the land of Egypt-a darkness that can be felt.’” (Exodus 10:21)  Darkness is usually associated with light and the sense of sight.  Darkness you can feel?  That sounds like the Twilight Zone, and then some.

Abe is a 99-year-old who knows something about darkness that can be felt; he survived seven camps during the Shoah (Holocaust).  Yet, each day Abe brings light with him into the JCC of Greater Columbus, OH.  Abe says,” Life is short.  Be nice to each other.”

How many of us take Abe’s words to heart?  The words are so simple, yet it is harder and harder to feel them in today’s world.  But it’s really the most important thing.  Maya Angelou reminds us, “You may forget what I said, you may even forget what I did, but you will never forget how I made you feel.”

Darkness that can be felt.  The Egyptians never forget the darkness because they could feel it.  The Torah teaches us to fight that darkness by being a “light unto the nations.”  JCCs bring light by educating our children about Jewish life, by collaborating with other institutions, and by doing good work in the Jewish and general community, affecting people’s souls as well as their bodies.  JCCs light up the community by being places where people are nice to one another.