Midrash teaches that, while watching the Egyptians succumb to the ten plagues, the angels broke into songs of jubilation. God rebuked them, saying “My creatures are perishing, and you sing praises?”
As we recite each plague, we spill a drop of wine—symbol of joy—from our cups. Our joy in our liberation will always be tarnished by the pain visited upon the Egyptians.
דָּם. Dam Blood
צְפְַרדֵּעַ. Tzfarde’ah Frogs
כִּנִּים. Kinim Lice
עָרוֹב. Arov Insect swarms
דֶּבֶר. Dever Cattle plague
שְׁחִין. Sh'chin Boils
בָּרָד. Barad Hail
אַרְבֶּה. Arbeh Locusts
חֹשֶׁךְ. Choshech Darkness
מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת: Makat B'chorot Death of the First-Born
Today's plagues may be less obvious or dramatic, but are no less insidious...and responsibility for their existence lies on our shoulders. They include:
Apathy in the face of evil
Brutal torture of the helpless
Cruel mockery of the old and the weak
Despair of human goodness
Envy of the joy of others
Falsehood and deception corroding our faith
Greedy theft of earth’s resources
Hatred of learning and culture
Instigation of war and aggression
Justice delayed, justice denied, justice mocked…
Shekhinah, soften our hearts and the hearts of our enemies. Help us to dream new paths to freedom, so that the next sea-opening is not also a drowning; so that our singing is never again their wailing. So that our freedom leaves no one orphaned, childless, gasping for air.
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