In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about the plague of darkness that G-d brought upon the Egyptians. The verse states, “No person could see his brother”. However, the children of Israel had light in all their homes.
The common explanation of this verse is that although G-d brought darkness to the land of Egypt, the Jewish people were simply unaffected by the darkness. However, the Midrash Rabbah explains the verse that there were two miracles. A miracle caused the land of Egypt to plunge into darkness, then a second miracle occurred that provided light for the Jewish people.
When the Jews left Egypt, G-d told them to request from their neighbors silver and gold objects and clothing. According to the Midrash, the light that was provided for the Jewish people was a supernatural light which enabled them to see even buried treasures and thereby request even these treasures from the Egyptians before they left Egypt.
The Kabbalah teaches that the reason it was so important for the Jews to take all the possessions of the Egyptians was because there were sparks of holiness hidden in the physical items of the Egyptians and by the Jews taking possession of these items they extracted the sparks of holiness from the evil of Egypt.
The Kabbalah continues to teach that when we use physical items for holy purposes, we also extract the holy sparks that are found in the item and elevate the item to the realm of holiness and thereby fulfill the purpose of creation which is to elevate our physical world.