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What Was the Point of the Plagues? - 4/7/17

What Was the Point of the Plagues? - 4/7/17



In This Issue
Celebrate Passover: April 10-18, 2017
Sell your Chametz Online!
What Was the Point of the Plagues?
11th of Nissan: The Rebbe's Birthday
Седер биндюжника
On a Lighter Note
Celebrate Passover: April 10-18, 2017
Pesach (Passover) is April 10-18, 2017

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. It is observed by avoiding leaven and highlighted by the Seder meals that include four cups of wine, eating matza and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.

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What Was the Point of the Plagues?
When it comes to the Passover Seder, I always get stuck on the ten plagues. 
The Nile River turns to blood, the land is co vered in frogs, the people riddled with lice. It all sounds a bit weird. Why would the Almighty G‑d afflict a people with these particular plagues? He could have just zapped them, and yet He sends them....frogs?!

I too have been baffled by the plagues, especially the frogs. It is a bit incongruous, like calling a football team "The Roosters." It just doesn't sound menacing.

You can only understand the plagues if you listen to the way G‑d Himself described them. He told Moses, "I will smite the Egyptians and bring justice to their gods." G‑d was not only punishing the Egyptian people for enslaving the Israelites, He was also smashing the Egyptian value system.

Each plague was an attack on the core beliefs of Egypt, the beliefs that led them to become the most immoral society of that time. Let's look at the three examples you mentioned: the river turning to blood, the frogs and the lice.

The Egyptians worshiped the Nile as a god. It was their source of irrigation, and thus their source of wealth. The Nile represents materialism in the extreme. That's why it was afflicted first. When money is god, blood will flow.

The frog was another Egyptian deity, the god of fertility. Having children is a noble pursuit, but for the Egyptians, children were no more than a power base. Being fruitful like a frog meant expanding your clan and extending your influence. When children are seen as frogs, humans have lost their humanity.

But it was the third plague, the plague of lice, that forced the Egyptians to recognize that the finger of G‑d was at play. The Egyptian sorcerers were able to replicate the first two plagues through black magic, and so they weren't convinced that they were being divinely punished. But when lice swarmed over every Egyptian, they lifted their hands up in defeat.

As powerful as Egyptian sorcery was, it could not manipulate something as small as a louse. Egyptian spirituality dealt with big things, major issues, not minute details. They didn't give importance to the small things.

We left Egypt and its ugly beliefs behind to embrace a value system that was its polar opposite. Money is not a god, merely a means to do good. Our children are not trophies, but precious souls entrusted to us by G‑d. And little things do matter. Most of our lives are made up, not of dramatic choices and big events, but of small details and subtle choices, and they all make a difference.

At the Seder we enumerate the ten plagues and reflect on the values that made the Egyptians into oppressors--the values we left behind, and the values that have kept us coming to the Seder for three thousand years.
11th of Nissan: The Rebbe's Birthday

Friday, April 7, 2017 (Nissan 11 on the Hebrew calendar), marks 115 years since the birth of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory. 

On his birthday each year, the Rebbe redoubled his efforts to reach out to Jews in every corner of the world. In honor of this milestone, we offer the articles and videos to provide some insight into the significance of this special day.

Седер биндюжника

Вот что случилось однажды с рабби Леви Ицхаком из Бердичева в пасхальную ночь. Весь год готовился цадик к празднику, и каждое изречение, произнесенное за столом, каждая деталь обряда сияли особым светом. А когда после седера на рассвете сидел рабби Леви Ицхак радостный, что седер так удался, услышал он Голос:
- Чем ты так гордишься? Седер биндюжника Хаима Мне милее, чем твой.
Позвал цадик учеников и стал расспрашивать об этом еврее. Отправились на поиски и долго бродили по улицам города, пока не нашли в бедном квартале дом Хаима. Постучали ученики в дверь, открыла им женщина с заплаканными глазами.
- Мы хотели бы видеть достопочтенного господина Хаима, - произнес рабби Леви Ицхак.
- Господина? - удивилась женщина. - Моего мужа действительно зовут Хаим, да только он простой биндюжник. Если вы хотите видеть его, войдите в дом. Не знаю только, сможете ли вы поговорить с ним: вчера он напился и спит.
Вошли гости в дом, стали теребить спящего хозяина. Поднял Хаим голову, посмотрел на них мутным взором и хотел было снова заснуть, но рабби произнес:
- Уважаемый господин Хаим, не соблаговолишь ли ты рассказать нам, как провел ты пасхальную ночь?
Покраснел Хаим-биндюжник и ответил:
- Я, ребе, человек простой, неученый. Работаю с рассвета до темноты. Перед Песахом выкроил я время для семьи, подготовился к празднику. А вчера случилась со мной скверная история: стал я выносить из дому хамец, чтобы сжечь его, как у нас водится. И вдруг вспомнил, что в доме осталась бутылка водки. Хоть я и не учился в ешиве, знаю, что водку в Песах не пьют и в доме держать ее - большой грех. Но не выливать же ее! Выпил я ее, и заснул. И видел я сон, ребе. Будто все мы: и я, и жена, и дети - рабы у египтян, и видел я, как Г-сподь вывел нас из рабства и перевел через море посуху. Вот такой странный сон.
- Теперь понятно, сынок, чем угодил ты Всевышнему, - улыбнулся рабби. - Ведь говорит Талмуд: "В каждом поколении должен еврей чувствовать, будто он сам выходит из Египта".
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On a Lighter Note

A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood. She said, "Now, class, if I stood on my head, the blood, as you know, would run into it, and I would turn red in the face."
"Yes," the class said.
"Then why is it that while I am standing upright in the ordinary position the blood doesn't run into my feet?"
A little fellow said, "Cause your feet ain't empty." - click on the picture


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