Tomorrow at shul we’re going to read about the final three plagues: locust, darkness, and the death of the firstborn.
While the death of the firstborn is obviously horrific, darkness has always been the most fascinating plague to me. It’s such a simple thing, and yes it’s easy to understand how terrifying it would be to be thrust into utter darkness for days at a time.
Rashi says two interesting things: first that the darkness was like a heavy blanket that went over everything in Egypt, freezing people in their places, and second, that the darkness was really an excuse for God to kill off all the Israelites who didn’t deserve to get out of Egypt. Why kill them during the darkness? So the Egyptians wouldn’t see Israelites dying and think to themselves, “They’re suffering just like us.”
There’s a lot to say and think about this, and it’s been covered pretty comprehensively by Biblical commentators of all stripes, so I’ll just leave you with Nina Simone.
Pronounced: shool (oo as in cool), Origin: Yiddish, synagogue.