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    Defining darkness – Bo

    The plague of darkness, Doré’s English Bible, 1866

    How do we define darkness – scientifically or ethically?

    The Torah takes the second option: “There was thick darkness… and no-one could see his fellow” (Ex. 10:22-23).

    Even if a person can physically see, they can be smitten with metaphorical darkness when they look at or through a person and can’t see that they are a fellow human being.

    Not everyone is lovable, not everyone is pleasant, not everyone is very brotherly or sisterly. But when the Torah tells you to love your fellow (Lev. 19:18) it doesn’t qualify the command by saying, “Provided they are nice to you, provided they have a smile, provided they make themselves friendly”.

    The Yiddish saying about Jews is that every Jewish person has a pintele Yid, a drop of Jewishness, even if it doesn’t seem to be so. Broaden the saying and apply it to every human being. They all have a pintele Mensch, a drop of humanity.

    The beginning of Mishnah B’rachot says that you know it is dawn when you can see the face of a fellow human being.

    “See” is both a physical and a metaphorical concept.

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