This week’s Portion describes seven of the ten plagues that G-d brought onto Pharoh and the Egyptians. The first plague was blood, which caused all the Egyptian water sources and containers of water to turn into blood. This plague, as well as all of the plagues, did not affect the Jews.
The Medrash tells us that if a Jew and an Egyptian were drinking from the same bowl, the Jew would be drinking water while the Egyptian would be drinking blood. Only if the Egyptian would buy water from a Jew would it remain water for the Egyptian. Over the seven-day period of the plague of blood, the Jews became wealthy from this valuable commodity, water.
The Torah relates that G-d informed our forefather Avraham that his descendants would be enslaved for many years and then leave with great wealth. This was fulfilled after the ninth plague of darkness when the Jews were able to discover where their masters had hidden their wealth during the darkness. After that the Egyptians gave their extreme wealth to the Jews.
Why was it necessary for the Jews to become wealthy at the onset, during the plague of blood?
Yalkut Ha’urim explains with a passage of the Talmud. Reb Pinchos ben Chama presented the following: “Poverty in one’s home is worse than 50 plagues.” In the Passover Hagadah after we mention the ten plagues, the Hagadah mentions an opinion that the Egyptians suffered at the Red Sea a total of 50 plagues.
G-d, in His kindness to the Jewish people, elevated them from their state of impoverished slaves by providing them immediately with wealth right at the beginning of their redemption process, because if they would have been impoverished during the plagues, the Jews would have felt smitten even worse than the Egyptians, as the Talmud relates, poverty is worse than fifty plagues.
When the plague of Dever – pestilence – struck, the Torah relates that Pharoh sent inspectors to see if any of the animals of the Jews died, and they relayed to him that not one died, as G-d had stated. The verse continues and says, that Pharoh hardened his heart and did not send out the Jews.
The question asked is, what was Pharoh expecting to gain from being so stubborn? Especially after he saw that it was the hand of G-d, and he will be in for even more punishment. An answer offered is, this is the nonsensical aspect of those who hate the Jews and G-d. The truth can be glaring them right in their eyes, but their hate is so intense, illogical and absurd, that even when seeing the truth, they are incited more, even when it is to their own detriment.
Hamas and all the terrorists who are our current enemies are a prime example of this.
May Hashem listen to our prayers and may we see an end to all our enemies!
I want to share a beautiful insight into the innate caring nature that every Jew has for another.
The Torah tells us that when Moshe was three months old, he was placed in a basket in the river to elude the Egyptian authorities who were ordered by Pharoh to drown the male babies.
The Torah tells us that Basya, the daughter of Pharoh, was going to immerse herself in the river and she noticed the basket. She stretched her arm and brought the basket in and saw a baby and she heard a Na’ar – an older boy ― cry.
The Medrash tells us that the older boy’s cry was not coming from Moshe, rather, it was coming from his older brother Aaron. Aaron was with his sister Miriam watching what was going to happen to Moshe. When Aaron saw Basya pulling Moshe’s basket in, he began to cry over his brother’s fate.
When Basya, who our sages tell us was at that time ritually immersing to rid herself from idolatry and join the monotheistic belief of the Jews, heard a cry coming from afar, and realizing that it was because the baby was in possible danger, she immediately proclaimed, “This baby is Jewish.”
Why was she so sure? Because she, as the princess, was quite aware of the lack of compassion Egyptians had for each other. So when she heard a cry coming from the distance over another’s fate, she was as sure as day that the baby was Jewish – because she was aware that compassion, kindness and empathy for another, is an inherent trait of the Jews.
Since October 7th, these unbelievable and unmatched traits of ours, caring, giving, praying, feeling for another’s pain and our heightened sensitivity toward religious adherence has been extraordinary and unparalleled and has bolstered amazing unity within us.
Every Jew has these great ingredients. One shakes a bottle of medicine to blend the components to reach their potency and effectiveness. We were, and are currently being shaken to the core by the tragedies, and through it, our true nature has brilliantly come to light!