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A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

by Rabbi Norman Schloss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

In this week's Torah portion we come across the following verse in the tochachah (admonition): "You will grope at noontime as a blind person gropes in the darkness" (Deuteronomy 28:29).

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In this week's Torah portion we come across the following verse in the tochachah (admonition): "You will grope at noontime as a blind person gropes in the darkness" (Deuteronomy 28:29).

Regarding this verse, Rabbi Yossi in the Talmud (Tractate Meggilah 24b) states that he was always puzzled by this verse: "What difference does it make to a blind person whether it be day or night? He cannot see in either case! Until it happened that I was walking in the dark of night and I came across a blind man holding a torch. I said to him, 'My son, why are you carrying a torch?' Said the blind man to me, 'As long as I carry the torch, people can see me coming and come to my aid so that I do not trip and fall.'"

We see from here, says the commentator Rabbi Yisrael Stam of Kelm, that there must be times that a blind person can walk without any assistance at all. For instance, if he knows the way and the path is clear and straight, he can go easily. However, on a difficult road that he has never traversed, if he goes too fast he will surely stumble and fall. Similarly, there were times in Jewish history when the pathways for the people to follow were clear. We were strong in our faith and the times were peaceful. It was not very difficult to preserve our faith and our convictions. That is not the case today, when there are many pitfalls in front of us as we go through the unfamiliar paths of our exile.

We do, however, have a helping hand to guide us. Just as the blind man holds the torch so that those who can see are able to come to his aid and guide him through the difficult paths, so too we, who are blinded by all that is around us, must hold up the torches so that the torch will light the way. These torches that we hold up are the institutions of Torah education and the talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars). In this way, when we cannot see clearly, they will be there to light up the way and get us through.

We are now midway through the Hebrew month of Elul, two weeks before the holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Let us not despair over the darkness that envelops us. Rather, let us strengthen those torches that are in our midst. Support of our Torah institutions will help us see the light.

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Rabbi Norman Schloss writes from Atlanta.

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