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Friday, January 01, 2016

Frogs (Vo’eira)

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.

Posted on 01/01 at 10:38 PM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at