The Last Three Plagues
By Sierra Manker
January 27, 2007
On the Occasion of Her Bat Mitzvah
When I first saw what my Torah portion was about, I discovered that it was about locusts. Locusts! That would be a real hard topic to make a speech out of. But when I read deeper into the portion, I found that is was really about the story of Passover. It is also the transitional portion from a family of 70, into a people of over 3 million. Whew! I thought I would have to spend my whole speech talking about locust.
The Passover story begins when, the Jews were slaves in Egypt, living under Pharaohs control. One Hebrew, named Moses, was not living like his other people. When Moses was just a baby, Pharaoh ordered his men to kill at the baby boys of the Jews because he was afraid that the Jewish population was increasing to rapidly. Moses’ mother put him in a basket and sent him adrift in a river, hoping to save him from death. He miraculously traveled safely down the river and was found by Pharaohs daughter. She immediately fell in love with Moses and brought him back to the palace to raise him. Moses was raised along Pharaohs own son and grew to love his royal family. One day while he was walking near the newly made temples, he saw an old, sick, weak slave getting beaten by one of Pharaohs overseers. Because of Moses’ caring heart and knowledge of his Jewish heritage, he came to the old mans defense and killed Pharaohs overseer who was administrating the beating. Moses realized what he did and in fear for his own life, he fled to the desert. During his time in the desert he married, and formed a conformable life for himself. But, one day when he was walking with his sheep in the desert, he came upon a burning bush, but surprisingly; the flames did not consume the bush. As any normal person would do when they saw a natural phenomenon, he stopped and looked. Then came a loud voice from nowhere, it was the voice of God. Hashem told Moses to go back to Egypt and rescue his people. At first, Moses was unsure of him self, but agreed to go. Moses doubted that people would believe him if he told that that God had talk to him.
Now a days, people like Jimmy Swagger and Pat Roberson say god talked to them and people look at them like that are crazy. So God presented Moses with a magical staff to prove that his words were really the words of God.
Moses went back to Egypt to get his people. When he first asked Pharaoh, to free the Jews from slavery, instead of freeing them Pharaoh got angry and increased the work for the people. Then Hashem tells Moses to take his staff in put it in the river that ran through out all Egypt. This turned all the water in Egypt into blood. This affected all the people of Egypt physically because they relied on the river for fish and fresh water, which was no longer available. It also affected people mentally because…. Come on… anyone here would be freak out to be living in area surround by BLOOD! People started to worry but Pharaoh still refused to let the Hebrews go free.
Moses then was told to take his staff and raise it up over Egypt and the whole area was to be filled with frogs. This plague does not seem as awful as blood was, but the frogs filled all the water streams, homes, and crops. Look at how upset people here are because of the Koki frogs, and all the do is make noise. Not destroy crops or invade homes. For those of you that are not from here, the Koki frog is a tiny frog that has a SUPER loud voice.
God told Moses to strike the land with the staff and all the dust turned into lice. Lice were thickly dispersed through all of Egypt; every man and beast was infected with the tiny little pest. Ukus! And once again, for those of you that are not from here, they are head lice. Think about how you feel about those. Some people (glance at mom) think that they are one step away from death. Even though the actual plague was small in size, it affected people on an extreme scale. At this point, many people were getting angry with Pharaoh. The sorcerers told him that the plagues were a message of God. “It’s a finger of god,” they cried. But because of Pharaohs stern heart, he did nothing. The forth plague soon arrived, a swarm of wild beasts. Wild beasts filled the home of all Egyptians and filled the land. But, once again, Pharaoh refused to let the Jews out of Egypt.
God told Moses to once again ask Pharaoh to let the Jews out of Egypt. He were to refuse, a major epidemic would spread. All the cattle and livestock in Egypt would die. This caused starvation all through out the land of Egypt, but the plague did not affect the livestock in Goshen.
Hashem then told Moses to go to Pharaoh and take some of the land and throw it heavenward in his presence. When Moses did this, all the people of Egypt were covered in boils. All the men, women, and children. This plague affected people more than the others, because most of the other plagues, except for lice, affected the things around them. The blood, frogs, wild beasts, and epidemic affect the resource the people of Egypt had. Lice and boils affect them physically. They were miserable during the day, and now at night too. If you were covered with itchy red bumps, you would be pretty unhappy. But god continued to make Pharaohs heart sterner.
So Hashem told Moses to herd all the cattle of his people into there homes for the next day, a heavy hail would rain from the sly and kill everything it touched. After the hail began, Pharaoh summoned Moses and agreed to let the Hebrews out of Egypt, if the hail would stop. Moses summand the hail to stop and as it did, God hardened Pharaohs heart so that he changed his mind, and did not let the Hebrews go free. As it says in the first two lines of my portion, “Hashem said to Moses, “Come to Pharaoh, for I have made his heart and the hearts of his servants stubborn so that I can put these signs of Mine in his midst; and so that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son’s son that I made a mockery of Egypt of My signs that I placed among them- that you may know that I am Hashem.”
At this point, Pharaohs servants started to complain and told Pharaoh “Come on, you can cloths you eyes and crawl into your little palace and not look at the suffering of your people. But it is still happening even if you do not want to admit it. Theses Jews are more trouble than they are worth. They may be building your temples, but they are not doing anything for us common people. THEY ARE RUINING EGYPT! Pharaoh summoned Moses and asked him if they were going to leave, whom were they going to take with them. Well of course Moses replied that all of the Jews would go and take their cattle with them. Pharaoh did not want to let all the people go, especially with their cattle. Because of Pharaohs refusal to let the Jews go free, Moses summoned a locust swarm to cover all the fields of Egypt. The locust swarm killed all the crops, and once again, like the epidemic, it caused starvation.
Moses was told to send the locust swarm away, but with that, he brought a thick darkness to the land for a three-day period. Now, this was not just like nighttime darkness. This was a darkness that you could feel. More like a feeling of depression, rather than darkness. Pharaoh, for the second time, almost allowed the Jews to leave, but god, once again, hardened the heart of Pharaoh and he refused to let the Hebrews leave.
Hashem told Moses that one more plague was to be brought upon the land of Egypt. He said that this plague would drive the Jews out of the land. Moses went to Pharaoh and told him what Hashem had said. At midnight, all the first-born children in Egypt were to die. Hashem told Moses to tell the people to take a lamb or goat and slaughter it and put its blood on the lintel and the doorposts of all the homes of the Hebrews. This would be the sign to the angel of death to leave that home untouched by death. The difference in this plague is that it did more than it seemed. This plague would have been bad enough if it killed many children, but fathers and mothers that were the first born of the family.
If you are the firstborn in your family, raise you hand. Now, keep it up. It your parents were the firstborn in there family, either you mom your dad also raise your hand. Now, if your grandparents were the firstborns, raise you hand. Look around, almost everyone has they hand raise. See what a ripple affect it has. No of you would be alive. The night of that plague, there was no Egyptian household without a corpse in it. If a woman gave birth to two different children, each with a different father, both would die as they were each a firstborn of either parent. The plague did not just affect people, but animals as well. This plague wiped out generations of people. It was also similar to in the beginning of the story, when Pharaoh ordered the death of all the Jewish baby boys. This plague seemed to give Pharaoh a taste of his own medicine. What goes around, come around, as they say.
After the 10th plague and Pharaohs loss of his son, he finally let the Jews go free. But as they were leaving, they really did not know where they were heading. It was like sticking your hand into a deep hole and not know what is down there. They were going into the unknown, with only the guidance of Moses to comfort them. A Bat Mitzvah is the beginning of a girl’s transition into a woman. It is similar to the transition that it taking part in my portion, when the Jews leave Egypt and begin on a large transition of their own. That brings me into my mitzvah project.
For my mitzvah project I participated in Relay for Life the past year. I raised over $600 for cancer research funds. I was part of my school team. In fact, I was the only middle school student on the team and by far the youngest. I stayed all night and walked laps for hours! When I decided to join the team, I was really nervous. I had been part of a team before, but my mom was there to be with me and stay with me.
This time I was on my own. I was worried at the other team members might not like me because I was younger and in another grade. I felt as if I was going into a situation blindfolded. Quite similar to the way the Jews felt when they were leaving Egypt; they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. But, luckily for me, everyone else on the team was supportive of having a younger person on the team and was very nice to me. It would have been a lot easier if my friends (glace at friends) had been with me, but it was a great experience after all. After the relay, my teacher got a call from the people in charge of planning the relay in Waimea. They said that they wanted to have a young adult on the team to help plan the entertainment, the games, and other things that kids and young adults would enjoy for the 2007 Relay for Life. They asked the teacher who coordinated the Parker School relay team if I would be willing to be on the official planning committee. My teacher asked if I would and I agreed! So, in this new year, I will be assisting in the planning of the Relay for Life for the Waimea community and will also be on the Parker school team raising money once again
The reason I choose this for my Mitzvah project is because when I was five, my dad died from a rare type of cancer. When this happened, I did not know what was going to happen in my life. It was again similar to when the Jews left Egypt. I was going into an unknown life that I had known idea how to live it. But, with the help of friends and family, the transition was not as hard as I had thought. I would like to help prevent other people from dying of cancer in the future and Relay for Life seems to be the perfect opportunity to do this. I have been doing the relay for the past 3 years, but this time I will be able to help plan it and be more involved than I ever was before.
So many people have helped me through my life so far and to put together this event.
I would like to thank the following people: My mom, for being the best mom a girl could ever have. My grandma, for coming out to Hawaii for all my birthdays. My Aunt Faye, my Uncle, Paul, my cousin Alea, my cousin Joshua, my Uncle Mike, and my Aunt Allison for come out here from Pennsylvania to celebrate this advent with me. I would especially like to thank Alea, for being the ark opener for me and my Aunt Faye and Uncle Paul for getting the beautiful flower arrangements. My cousins Mark and Kathleen for come from Las Vegas to be with me today. All my hula sisters and friend from coming here today. I would especially like to thank the Calciolari family for contributing to the party favors and Bailey for coming with me to every Hebrew class and helping me practice. Thank you to my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Kelvin of getting the musician, which you will all hear in a few minutes and for contributing to the flower arrangements where we will be eating. Neil, for helping me get ready for this day. And all the Hebrew school students for helping me practice. Once again I would like to thank my mom, for taking care of me and always being there for me when ever I needed her. And thank all of you for coming to day.