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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Frogs (Vo’eira)

By Rabbi Sender Haber

The frogs seem to be an odd part of the story of the Exodus. Water turning to blood, wild animals, blackouts, death and disease seem pretty standard, but frogs are cute. One year my wife ordered one hundred frogs from oriental trading had my kids throw them at me throughout the seder. That was annoying. Still, it is hard to relate to frogs as real punishment for the Egyptians.

The Medrash tells us that more than the presence of the frogs, people were annoyed by their croaking. They would grate on everyone’s nerves; The Egyptians couldn’t deal with this. The Medrash tell us that first there was one big frog, but when they hit it turned into two, then four then eight then sixteen, then thirty two and so on and so forth.

They lost their self control. They kept on hitting the frog.

I think that this plague was directed specifically at Pharaoh. The frogs went to his house first before branching out to other homes. Pharaoh had a very shallow idea of God. He thought he was G-d. The Noam Elimelech writes that he was so shallow in his thoughts that Moshe had to actually represent G-d to Pharaoh. He really couldn’t conceive of a G-d that was beyond his understanding.

The frogs brought out the humanity in Pharaoh. He simply couldn’t deal with them. They annoyed him and he snapped. When the waters turned to blood, Pharaoh stayed strong. He made no official recorded statements. When it came to the frogs he was in frenzy. Get rid of these frogs. He didn’t complain about another plague until all the way at the end of the Parsha.

Pharaoh was learning a lesson about humanity and a lesson about G-d. G-d doesn’t get annoyed, his doesn’t lose His temper, and he doesn’t act irrationally. G-d is called a Kadosh because he is above all that.

This is a lesson for us as well. We need to do our best to act G-dly and rise above the fray. At the same time, we need to remember that only G-d is truly above it all and making the most rational decisions. The rest of us are just human.

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