The Ten Plagues


Despite the Torah's suggestion that all the Egyptians participated in our enslavement and thus deserved punishment, we do not savor their suffering. The Talmud tells us that as the Egyptians were flailing about in the sea, the angels wanted to sing Halleluyah for Israel's redemption, but G-d rebuked them saying, "How can you sing My praises when My children are drowning?" The Book of Proverbs cautions us, "Do not rejoyce when your enemy falls." We reduce the jubilation we might have felt over our rescue by removing from our cups of joyous wine a drop of joy untasted for each plague suffered by our oppresors. As we read each plague, we remove a drop of wine with a finger or spoon and place it on a napkin or plate as we remember not only our joy, but our captors' sorrow.

We read together:

אֵלּוּ עֶשֶׂר מַכּוֹת שֶׁהֵבִיא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל הַמִּצְרִים בְּמִצְרַים , וְאֵלוּ הֵן

Eilu eser makot sheheivi hakadosh baruch hu al hamitzrim b'mitzrayim, v'eilu hein:

These are the Plagues that the Holy One, blessed be He, brought upon Mitzrayim:

Blood | Dahm | דָּם

Frogs | Tzi-far-dey-ah | צְפֵרְדֵּע

Lice | Key-neem | כִּנִים

Beasts | Ah-rov | עָרוֹב

Cattle Plague | Deh-ver | דֶּבֶר

Boils | Sh’chin | שְׁחִין

Hail | Bah-rahd | בָּרד

Locusts | Ar-beh | אַרְבֶּה

Darkness | Cho-shech | חשֶׁךְ

Slaying of First Born | Mah-kat Beh-cho-rot | מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת


To help us remember their order, Rabbi Yehudah abbreviated the plagues thus:

Assembled: ( D’TZ”KH A-Da”SH B’AH”V) דְּצַ״ךְ עַדַ״שׁ בְּאַחַ״ב


The Maharal of Prague, the great Rabbi Judah Loewe, said that Rabbi Yehudah's acronym reminds us that the plagues may be understood in three groups. Blood, Frogs and Lice all attacked the Egyptians from below. The second group, Beasts, Cattle Plague, and Boils; attacked the Egyptians on their own level. The third group, Hail, Locusts, and Darkness; attacked the Egyptians from the heavens above. Thus, all creation was turned against the Egyptians, while in the Slaying of the First-Born, listed alone, it is G-d alone, who seals the destruction of Mitzrayim.

haggadah Section: -- Ten Plagues
Source: Illustration: Arthur Szyk; Text: Traditional Haggadot