This week’s parshah, Parshas Bo, tells us about the last three of the Ten Makkos and ends with Bnei Yisrael finally leaving Mitzrayim. In terms of our legacy, the millions leaving Mitzrayim was the first step of our transforming from a large family to a nation. But not everyone left Mitzrayim…
The ninth plague was Choshech, Darkness. For six days, complete darkness fell over Mitzrayim. During the last three days, the darkness was so thick that the Egyptians couldn’t even move an inch. Rashi gives two reasons why Hashem brought this specific affliction as a plague. One is so that the Bnei Yisrael, who had regular sunlight, could search the Egyptian’s homes for their valuables in peace. Later, when they were about to leave Mitzrayim, they could ask the Egyptians for their valuables; if the Egyptians would deny having any, the Jews would be able to tell them exactly where they were.
The second reason is that there was a certain group in the Jewish People who did not deserve to leave Mitzrayim and experience the miracles the nation was to see in the desert. Therefore, they died before they left. However, Hashem didn’t want the Egyptians to see the Jews dying and assume they were being punished the same way the Egyptians were. Therefore, He brought complete darkness on them and allowed that group of Jews the ability to die out of sight of the Egyptians.
The Kli Yakar asks a question on Rashi. By none of the other makkos does Rashi ask why that specific form of plague was placed on the Egyptians. Why by Choshech does Rashi ask why this specific plague was given?
He explains that by every other makkah, Paroh had the opportunity throughout the period that the makkah was going on to agree to let the Jews go, and the makkah would have stopped. During Choshech however, he was frozen in place with the rest of his people and didn’t have the opportunity to do anything. Even though the pasuk tells us that Hashem hardened Paroh’s heart that he shouldn’t let the Jews go, Paroh still could have changed his mind. However, in this case, Paroh has no choice at all in the matter! Therefore, Rashi tells us that Hashem had a very good reason for taking away Paroh’s choice. It was in order to protect the integrity of the Jewish People that they were not being punished with the Egyptians, and to prevent those who were dying from being embarrassed in front of the Egyptians that they were not leaving Mitzrayim with everyone else.
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