Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Vaera

After explaining in 8:17 that the plague of 'arov' is a mixture of wild animals which descended upon Egypt and killed some Egyptians, Rashi goes on to explain that the Medrash Tanchuma provides the reason for each plague. The reasons follow a military strategy of staged attacks against a city, giving time in between stages for the enemy to surrender. First the water supply is attacked (blood), then terrifying noises are made (croaking frogs), then arrows are shot (lice), then barbarians (wild animals) are dispatched to attack, etc. The obvious questions are, first, Rashi doesn't simply quote interesting medrashim for us - there must something incongruous in the psukim which Rashi is addressing by telling us this elaborate Tanchuma. Second, whatever the necessity of quoting the Tanchuma might be, why doesn't Rashi quote it for us at the beginning or end of all the plagues, but instead inserts it as a seeming afterthought following his explanation of arov.

In fact there is a machlokes (dispute) in the Medrash Rabbah (11:3) concerning the arov. Rabbi Yehuda maintains that the arov was a mixture of wild animals (bears, lions, leopards, etc.) that would kill some of the Egyptians (like barbarians kill); Rabbi Nechemia says that the arov was a mixture of annoying flying insects, such as hornets and gnats. The medrash explicitly concludes in favor of Rabbi Yehuda's view - see below for the reasons for this conclusion. [I do not know why, but every non-Jewish website which comes up in a search for the 'Ten Plagues' lists the fourth plague as flies, or something similar to that, basically following Rabbi Nechemia.]

Maskil L'dovid explains Rashi. Rashi first must establish that the meaning of arov follows Rabbi Yehuda (wild animals). However, Rabbi Yehuda's view raises another question. The first three plagues - blood, frogs, lice - were extremely annoying but not life threatening for their duration. The fourth plague, too, according to Rabbi Nechemia, was annoying but not life threatening (flying insects). However, according to Rabbi Yehuda, the fourth plague was life threatening. So according to Rabbi Yehuda we must ask why the fourth plague introduced a life threatening punishment. Accordingly, Rashi first quotes the medrash which follows the view of Rabbi Yehuda (wild animals). Then, immediately and in response to the question of why a life threatening plague is introduced at this stage, Rashi also quotes the Tanchuma which provides the military analogy for the order of the plagues and explains that at the fourth stage barbarians are brought in and kill.

[The reason given by the medrash for concluding that Rabbi Yehuda's view of arov (wild animals) is correct is based on a comparison of the psukim of arov with the psukim of the frogs. At the end of the plague of frogs the psukim say that the frogs died (and caused a stench) in Egypt, but at the end of the plague of arov the psukim do not say that the arov died in Egypt; it merely says the arov was removed from Egypt. If arov means flying insects then why would there be different treatment for the arov at the end of the plague - the arov also could have died and caused a stench in Egypt, like the frogs. However, if arov means wild animals, it is understandable why, unlike the frogs, the arov were removed from Egypt but did not die in Egypt, as dead animal carcasses would have been very valuable to the Egyptians. See Rashi to 8:27. ]


Gal Einai, Copyright © 2006 by Gedalia Litke and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON KI SEITZEI AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Of Men And Women
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

The War in Your Living Room
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Wordless Prayers
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5771

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Battle of Our Lives
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Don't Forget to Say Thank You
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

Teshuva—Fencing in the Enemy
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

ArtScroll

The Shofar: A Wake-Up Call
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

The Neighborhood
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

The Art of the Deal and It's Impact
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Be a New Person
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

Tapping Into Our Meritorious Pedigree
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5768

Elul – It’s All Relative
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5769

> Past, Present, and Future
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

Better Innocent than Guilty
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Overlook It When You've Been Wronged
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

The Blessings We All Hope For
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information