As we recite each plague, we dip a finger in our wineglass and spill out one drop
of wine, thereby acknowledging that our own joy is diminished by the memory of
When Moses first approached Pharaoh to request that the Israelites be set free,
Pharaoh refused, saying that he did not recognize the God of the Jewish people. God
responded by sending a series of ten plagues. After each of these, Moses again asked
Pharaoh to free the people, and each time Pharaoh refused—or agreed, only for God to
harden his heart. Finally, after the tenth and worst plague – the killing of the first-born
sons of Egypt– Pharaoh let the Israelites go.
Even as we are grateful for our freedom, we are pained by the knowledge that our
freedom came from the suffering of the Egyptian people. The tradition reminds us that
whenever people are oppressed, the oppressors suffer as well.
Blood | dam |דָּם
Frogs | tzfardeiya |צְפַרְדֵּֽעַ
Lice | kinim |כִּנִּים
Beasts | arov |עָרוֹב
Cattle disease | dever |דֶּֽבֶר
Boils | sh’chin |שְׁחִין
Hail | barad |בָּרָד
Locusts | arbeh |אַרְבֶּה
Darkness | choshech |חֹֽשֶׁךְ
Death of the Firstborn | makat b’chorot |מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת
Please take this time to think of a modern plague with the people at
your table. There are note cards on the table to write it down and each
table’s will be read aloud.
We remember the suffering of the Egyptians during each of the ten plagues. At this
time we acknowledge the modern issues that continue to plague our society and cause
suffering. As we remember these plagues, we remember those who continue to suffer.
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