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The Elements of Jewish Living

Hearts Of Darkness

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Everyone has been asking: “Rabbi, what time can I daven in the morning?

It seems to get light so late!” There are a number of answers to this question.  One third of all adults in the USA own a smart phone. Within seconds you can get the exact moment of Alos HaShachar, the earliest Shema, and the earliest time to put on your talis. So much techno-spiritual information at your finger tips. Or you can put your computer away and do what the Shulchan Aruch says. “When can you begin davening? When you can see your brother…”

“When can you begin davening? When you can see your brother…” There is something magical about these words. How can you turn to G-d when all you can see is your iPhone? How can you ask G-d to help you through the day when you can't see past your own nose? How can you ask G-d to see you, if you can't see your brother?

Let's consider the plague of darkness that G-d brought upon the Egyptian people. When the rivers turned into blood - there was nothing to drink. When frogs, locusts and grasshoppers attacked Egypt - there was nothing to eat. But what happened when the lights went out in Egypt? What couldn't they do?

“There was darkness across all the land of Egypt - and no man saw his brother!” That was the plague; they couldn't even see their own brothers. This was a plague worse than hunger and worse than thirst; the inability to see past one's own needs and thoughts.

From time to time all of us get caught up in our own thoughts. This is natural and very human. The problem begins when we are so caught up in our own thoughts that they form a brick wall around us and we don't even hear the thoughts of our brother.

This was the plague of darkness. What is light? When our brother, spouse, child or fellow Jew becomes the center of the world. He or she is what is important. It is only when I can get out of my own little space that I can start davening.

“In all the houses of Israel there was light.” The Ibn Ezra comments that actual light emanated from the houses of Israel. In the Jewish homes there was love, there was caring, there was listening, there was seeing your brother… and therefore there was light. May we all be blessed with light in our homes and in our lives.

“Dedicated to our new grandson, Yosef Matisyahu Walkin and the engagement of our son Shalom to Deena Portal, both of Beit Shemesh Israel”

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