Parsha Bo 5769: Tangible Darkness, Supernal Light and Jonathan Pollard


By Moshe Burt

Before taking off on this train of thought, here’s follow up on this week’s earlier post about the Thursday night Mishmar L’Zechut Jonathan Pollard which took place last evening;

In addition to our Mishmar at Kehillat Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham, which was well attended, a few other Shuls in Ramat Beit Shemesh signed on to dedicate their learning, either last night or next week, l’Zechut Jonathan.

In addition, a news release was emailed to several email lists and Yahoo e-groups both in Israel and in Chutz L’Aretz regarding last night’s Mishmar and as to plans to continue a once-a-month Mishmar dedicated to Jonathan and encouraging the Shuls to sign on to this Mitzvah of Pidyan Shevu’im.

At this point, it is deemed important to explain why a monthly Mishmar, why learning dedicated L’Zechut Jonathan Pollard?

Here we sit, 30 January, 2009. There is no more sitting President Bush to grant clemency. Derech HaTeva in-coming President Obama will surely not grant clemency and the government of Israel, in its current form, will take NO ACTION on Jonathan’s behalf — we have no where to turn — Derech HaTeva — except to appeal to the ultimate “Appeals Court” in Shemayim.

Perhaps, by displaying this level of Achdut regarding the Mitzvah of Pidyan Shevu’im for Jonathan Pollard and learning for his merit, that our collective level will rise and affect levels in Shemayim such that in this merit, HaKadosh Borchu will deem to liberate Jonathan and return him to us bim hay v’yameinu ­ Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

And perhaps this level of Achdut on behalf of Jonathan Pollard can serve as a model for Achdut amongst all Religious Jews on behalf of other issues involving Eretz Yisrael and and Israel’s sovereign survival.


As noted, in a previous blog post, The Ner Uziel, by Rabbi Uziel Milevsky, z’l brings an immense amount of clarity to the parshiyot.

And it appears that by Parsha Bo, Rabbi Milevsky (Ner Uziel, Parsha Bo, pages 342-343) brings a special clarity to both the “tangible darkness” and the “supernal light” — the double whammy with which Hashem afflicted the Mitzriyim while simultaneously adding a dimension to the perceptions and clarity of believing Jews.

As to the darkness, Rabbi Milevsky defines this “tangible darkness” as
“an extension of confusion and distorted view of reality” — of “a state of indecision and inner turmoil, in which simple, everyday activities become impossible” for lack of the element of clarity due to overwhelming self-doubt and confusion. In such a state, man loses the ability to function and to act. Indecision causes functional impairment rendering him cripple.

Meanwhile, when Hashem brought this “tangible darkness” upoon the Mitzriyim, at the same time He brought a “supernal light” upon the Jews. This light, unlike daytime light which we are accustomed to, was of an exclusively spiritual nature.

Rabbi Milevsky brings that it is this light which was created during the 6 days of creation — “Let there be light and there was light” (Beish’t perek 1, posuk 3), unlike the other creations which concluded “and it was so.”

Rabbi Milevsky explains that light, we know, is merely corporeal manifestation of a higher, more abstract essence — truth. The Upper realms of light are truth, while in our lower domain. light manifests as electromagnetic radiation visible to the human eye. “Truth” is supernal light which Hashem concealed at creation lest the wicked acquire and misuse it. He stored it for the righteous to use at the opportune time in the future.

He explains that during the plague of darkness (Mako of Choshech), the Jews were granted the use of this “supernal light” on this corporeal, spiritual level which was concealed from Mitzri eyes.

Okay. So, what has the “tangible darkness” and “supernal light” to do with Jonathan Pollard?

Having read this section in the Ner Uziel as to our parsha, and being in the midst of putting together the first Mishmar l’Zechut Jonathan Pollard, it brought me to search the Justice4Jonathan Pollard website to read documentation concerning the inhumane conditions of Pollard’s first 7 years of incarceration — in solitary confinement. In the process, this author found not only the countless citings of inhuman treatment during the solitary confinement, but also the the inhuman conditions in which he was kept under guard in shackles and chains in Washington D.C. for the 2 week period prior to a hearing on his case in 2003. The fact of this being a Shabbos vort prevents one from citing all of the conditions to which Jonathan was subjected — suffice to relate to them as inhumane and akin to the worst conditions of Viet Cong POW captivity.

Further, it is cited in a number of places on the Pollard site that psychological assessments of Jonathan by both the CIA and the Mossad were that if he would be confined for a long period under inhumane conditions, in a small compartment, without reading material and without that which is provided for other prisoners — that Jonathan would not last and that both the State Department and Mossad would have a resolution of their problem. The same held true for the manner in which Jonathan was held prior to his 2003 hearing.

In this author’s humble opinion; in the darkness in which Jonathan was cast, he confounded them all. Rather than the darkness bringing about what Rabbi Milevsky described as having overcome the Mitzriyim;
“a state of indecision and inner turmoil, in which simple, everyday activities become impossible” for lack of clarity due to overwhelming self-doubt and confusion, this very darkness appears to have become a “supernal light” for Jonathan who fought against the confinement, eventually winning release from solitary and placement in more normal prison conditions in Fort Butner. And it is this same “supernal light” which helped Jonathan in 2003 in the weeks leading to his hearing and helped him to avoid making what would have been life-threatening mistakes when he was brought into the hearing room after 2 weeks of confinement under the most dire sanitary conditions.

And it is this same “supernal light” which seems to guide him daily according to all the texts of his website and according to all of the writings and interviews of Esther Pollard and all who are able to visit him in prison. May Jonathan and we know ASAP the happiness and simcha of his immediate release to join all in Eretz Yisrael for the coming Ge’ula Shlaima.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem and that we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.