It's clear in the Seder and in Exodus that the plagues were one element on a long list of tactics brought against the Mitzrim in order to ensure the liberation of the enslaved. But this year, especially, we see that everyone who lived through those plagues suffered together. We see the ways that extended and broad-scale catastrophe can illuminate the injustices of those suffering. Even now in the strata of our society, we see how our pandemic has exacerbated injustice and so inspired liberation movements -- while those in the ruling classes stiffen their necks, as Pharoh did.
We don't know how long the plagues lasted. "The Ten Commandments" shows each plague taking place essentially in one day, but what if it had been, say, a year -- how would the timeline of ten whole plagues change how we think about the Exodus story?
And, a helpful reminder from Rabbi Jeffrey Sirkman, whose words we read last year when our pandemic was still so young:
The difficulty is when we attribute the plagues to God. I think that’s a really slippery slope. When we start attributing modern plagues to God — ‘God caused the earthquake, God caused the virus.’ No. Animal contact and biology caused the plague. And our ability to get it in check will also be the brilliance of human minds and research and people in countries working together.
God is our ability to heal — our ability to still be connected, still stand up and breathe. We have to be careful not to call it a plague or frame it as a plague. Though we feel it like a plague, I can’t believe this is God-given. God isn’t striking anybody. God is holding us up.
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