The Rebbe often emphasized that the review of the weekly Parsha, read weekly by Jews the world over, is not only for the sake of reminding ourselves of our long history and what happened to our great grandparents in days long bygone. Rather, the weekly Torah portion is for the sake of educating and instilling within us a more profound appreciation of our heritage and thereby enhancing our observance of Torah and Mitzvos today.
The ten plagues, discussed in these current Torah readings, which were inflicted upon the ancient Egyptians leading up to the Exodus from Egypt , have a message for us today. Let us take the Ninth plague, Darkness, which is in our current Torah reading this week.
The Torah tells us that there were three days of "thick darkness." According to the Midrash, the Egyptians could not see, nor even move. However, for the Jewish people it was different: they had light wherever they lived.
The Sages discuss this idea. Does it mean that the darkness did not affect the specific area where the Jewish people dwelt, the Land of Goshen? Or the other hand, does it mean, more mysteriously and mystically, that for a Jew, even in the Egyptian areas, there was light in during this period of darkness?
As explained by the Rebbe, these two opinions relate to our view of the world. One view is that there is a deep separation between the holy (the Jewish area) and the unholy (the idols of Egypt). In the holy realm, it was light; in the unholy realm, it was dark.
The second view is that the Jew in Egypt had the power to bring light to the realm of the unholy. Even in the Egyptian areas, where there was frighteningly thick darkness, the Jew could see.
This relates to our role in the world. The Jew enters a realm of spiritual darkness, yet he or she has the power to bring light even into that darkness, to illuminate the homes of the "Egyptians," of the apparently secular and materialistic world. This freedom is not just for ourselves. We have the power of light in the darkness of Egypt so that we can bring light to the whole world –the light of Redemption.
This forthcoming Wednesday (January 16, 2019) in the Jewish calendar is 10 Shvat, marking the 69th anniversary of the passing of the Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe OBM (in 1950) and the ascent to leadership of Rabbi Menachem M Schneerson, OBM. Throughout the years of their leadership, particularly here in America, this was a key theme – to teach and inspire all Jews that true freedom must have with it a life of spiritual purpose dedicated to G‑d’s service, in order to realize our destiny, achieve our goal and indeed be a “light unto the nations”.
Excerpts from chabad.org by Dr. Tali Loewenthal
May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!