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Table Talk: Vaeira

The Theme of the Plagues

Each plague is described as having a different purpose. Blood: 7:17, Frogs 8:6, Lice 8:15, Wild Beasts 8:18, Plague 9:7, Boils 9:11, Hail 9:14 -16. Can you map the steps in the

development of the theme?



The Development of the Plagues

It would be natural for all the frogs in Egypt to jump out of the Nile that had turned into blood. It would be natural for all the dead frogs to cause lice infestation. It would be logical for the wild beasts to be aggravated by the lice. Should we see all the plagues as a direct and natural result of each other? Does the verse indicate whether this is true or not? (See Rashi 8:17)


Moshe could not strike the water to turn it into blood because the water saved him when he was a baby. He could not strike the earth to cause the lice because the earth helped him bury the Egyptian he killed. The Shitah Mekubetztet (Bava Kamma 92b: “Do not throw clods of earth into a well from which you have drunk”. See too the Responsa of the Ri Migash #202) tells a story of Rabbeinu Yitzchak Alfasi, known as the Rif: the owner of a bathhouse helped The Rif. When the Rif was ill this man looked after him and saw to it that he was given medicinal baths until he recovered his strength. Later on the man fell heavily into debt and was obliged to have his bathhouse evaluated in order to pay his creditors. The Rif refused to be a judge in the case because he had benefited from the bathhouse! What are the practical implications of this for us?

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