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Rashi on Shemot 10:22 states:

ויהי חשך אפלה שלשת ימים וגו': חשך של אופל שלא ראו איש את אחיו אותן שלשת ימים. ועוד שלשת ימים אחרים חשך מוכפל על זה, שלא קמו איש מתחתיו. יושב אין יכול לעמוד, ועומד אין יכול לישב.‏

and there was thick darkness… for three days, etc.: Thick darkness in which they did not see each other for those three days, and another three days of darkness twice as dark as this, so that no one rose from his place. If he was sitting, he was unable to stand, and if he was standing, he was unable to sit.

From the wording, it seems like this inability to stand/sit was because of the thick darkness.

If so: how does darkness effect the ability to stand or sit?

Also, after 3 days standing - wouldn't they have fallen over by then?

If not: was this an additional punishment which came with darkness (i.e. being paralyzed)?

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I read this as the darkness being thick enough that it held them in place (physical constraint, not just paralysis), but I don't have a source. –  Monica Cellio Jan 20 '13 at 0:49
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

From Me'am Lo'ez:

The darkness was not like the darkness of night, but was something palpable. Our sages state that it could be felt, just like a coin. (Tanchuma; Shemot Rabbah. The measure of the "thickness of a coin [dinar]" is that which is considered to have substance; see Chulin 55b. Rashash on Shemot Rabbah writes that the darkness was like a thick curtain that could actually be felt with one's hands.]) It was not the mere absence of sunshine and moonlight. Rather, it was like a deep black cloud had enveloped all Egypt.

[In general there is a "chakira" (discussion) - I believe from the Rogetchover - whether darkness is simply absence of light or a independent creation ("Yotzer Ohr Ovoreh Chosech"). See Torah Sheleima in the Miluyim (1) at the end of Parsahas Bo for an extended discussion on the nature of this darkness.]

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