Emunah from the Arbeh
"Kinderlach, we have reached a very special point in the Pesach Seder."
"Are we ready to eat the matza, Abba?"
"Not quite, kinderlach. We are now going to speak about the makka of arbeh (plague of locusts). It was a special makka."
"Arbeh? We know that all of the makkos were great miracles, Abba. What makes the makka of arbeh so special?"
"Just look into the Chumash, kinderlach. At the beginning of parashas Bo, Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu to come to Paroh because He hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants. Why? In order to bring another plague upon them. As a result of this we would be able to tell our children that Hashem made a mockery out of Mitzrayim. (from Shemos 10:1-2). Do you know which plague the Torah was referring to, kinderlach?"
"Excellent, kinderlach. The Sefer Eved HaMelech relates that the Torah singles out this makka because it has a special impact. Recounting its details has the power to imbue our hearts with strong, complete emunah (faith) in Hashem and in His hashgacha pratis (personal supervision of the world)."
"Please tell us what makes makkas arbeh so special, Abba. We want to know about it and strengthen our emunah!"
"With pleasure, kinderlach. The makka began with Moshe stretching his staff over the land of Mitzrayim. Hashem brought an east wind through the land all day and night. In the morning, the east wind brought the arbeh. They ascended over all the land of Mitzrayim, and rested in all the borders of Mitzrayim. There was never anything like them, before or since. For they covered the face of the whole land, and it was darkened (from Shemos 10:13-15).
"These arbeh were not ordinary locusts. They ate up all of the grain and vegetation that was left in the fields after the plague of barad (hail). No greenery remained on the trees or the crops of the field in the entire land of Mitzrayim. This was middah kineged middah (measure for measure), for the Jewish slaves had cultivated those fields. The arbeh even ate the clothing and jewelry that the Mitzrim were wearing. They penetrated into the innermost rooms of their homes. Normal locusts are harmless, but these arbeh had venomous saliva which killed the Mitzrim. We learn this from the verse, 'May Hashem remove from me this death' (Shemos 10:17)."
"There is more, kinderlach. There are several species of locusts. Normally, an attack comes from only one species. Here, all of species came at once."
"Wow. Please tell us more, Abba."
"Okay, kinderlach. Locusts were considered a delicacy in those days. An invasion of arbeh would be considered a blessing to the Mitzrim, who ate them. They were happy when the arbeh came. Now they would have nice fat locusts to eat! They even began to pickle them and preserve them in barrels. Hashem, in His Infinite Wisdom, turned everything around. A strong west wind blew every one of the arbeh away."
"Even the ones in the barrels, Abba?"
"Yes, kinderlach. Not one single locust remained in Mitzrayim. Contrast this with the plague of tsefardeah (frogs). When that makka ended, the frogs were left all over the land of Mitzrayim. 'And they gathered them together in heaps; and the land stank.' (Shemos 8:10). The dead animals that were useful to them, Hashem took away. And the carcasses that were repulsive, Hashem left there for them to dispose of."
"Yes, kinderlach. Now, let us take a look at this verse in the Torah. 'I made a mockery of Mitzrayim' (Shemos 10:2). Rashi explains that Hashem "toyed" with the Mitzrim. He sat in Shomayim and played with them, like a child plays with dolls. The Eved HaMelech says that we must thoroughly search and investigate the plague of arbeh to see how Hashem toyed with the Mitzrim."
"We're ready Abba!"
"Until this makka of arbeh, kinderlach, Paroh acted with respect toward Moshe and Aharon. However, this time he dismissed them with much chutzpah. After the makka of choshesh (darkness) he acted even more brazenly. 'Go from me! Beware - do not see my face any more, for the day that you see my face, you shall die!' (Shemos 10:28)."
"You're not kidding kinderlach. Imagine Paroh's shame when he had to go around in his pajamas in the middle of the night searching for Moshe and Aharon."
"Exactly. Hashem toyed with Paroh. The King of Mitzrayim imagined himself to be a god. When he went to the Nile River, it rose to meet him. He claimed that he created it and that he was providing the water that gave sustenance to Mitzrayim. With the plague of arbeh, all of the food was devoured. He was shown to be powerless and unable to feed his nation. This was a bitter disappointment to the Mitzrim. The makka of barad (hail) had destroyed the trees and many of the grains of the field. However, the wheat and spelt remained. The Mitzrim were happy! They had food! However, their happiness was short-lived. The arbeh ate the remaining grain. And so, Hashem toyed with them. He hung a ray of hope in front of their eyes, and then took it away."
"What a makka - arbeh."
"Yes, kinderlach. Remember it forever."
Kinderlach . . .
All of the makkos were truly miraculous. However, the makka of arbeh had a special quality. It showed how The Almighty made a mockery out of Mitzrayim. Paroh and his country were a laughing stock. Hashem toyed with them, totally disgracing them in their own eyes and the eyes of the world. Why? To show us that He is The Only One. He is The All Powerful, with the ability to do anything to anyone at anytime. He is the Only One to believe in, because everyone and everything else is powerless against Him. That is the lesson of arbeh. Learn it well, kinderlach, and strengthen your emunah.
Which bechoros did Hashem kill in the plague? (12:29)
How many Jews went out of Mitzraim? (12:37)
Who went with the Jews out of Mitzraim? (12:38)
Which is the only tomei animal whose bechor we redeem? (13:13)
Which of the four sons is perek 14, posuk 13 speaking about? (Rashi)
Why did the people carry the matza dough on their shoulders when they left Mitzraim? (Rashi 12:34)
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