Parshat Bo 5770: Tangible Darkness, Supernal Light and Jonathan Pollard — Revisited

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Bo is the one which, for me, annually relates to that crazy tune which played back “in the Old Country” a few decades ago, “Does Your Korbon Pesach Lose It’s Flavor Tied to the Bedpost Overnight?” (Actually, the real title to the song was “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?”)

Over the years, this author has opened with this nutty parody because it cuts right to the chase, to the very heart of our Parsha. That is the Mitzvot of taking the Korbon Pesach, applying the da’am on Jewish doorposts, the going up from Mitzrayim (Egypt) to “…a land flowing with milk and honey …” and the first mitzvah commanded of the National entity (B’nai Yisrael), the Kiddush HaChodesh — the sanctification of the New Moon and the relevance today of these mitzvot which relate to emunah (belief in) and yirat (fear of)Hashem.

As noted in previous Parshat HaShevuas, 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” upon 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 also having in mind our dear brother Jonathan Pollard — that he put his entire being on the line L’Shem Shamayim, 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.

And let us not forget the supernal light of clarity which was Pollard’s when he first discovery of the intelligence which the U.S. was not supplying Israel — in violation of the information exhange agreement which America had made with the Jewish State. Jonathan knew what he had to do, and didn’t waver.

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, if not worse than 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 into 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 appeared, 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. May we have the courage to prevent the eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May 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; “Ki Karov 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.