top of page

First Blood, Then Frogs:

A Lesson From The 10 Plagues

Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz

White Minimalist Simple Aesthetic Name Twitter Header (1).png

In the Haggadah, we read, "In every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he went out of Egypt." This is because each of us has a personal Egypt from which to break free. Whether they are physical or spiritual constraints, we need to go out of our personal Egypts. The plagues teach us how to do this.

There are two types of spiritual constraints. The first is when a person finds himself stuck in the physical pleasures of the world, not having any feelings towards holiness and G‑d. The second is when someone finds himself stagnant in his spiritual growth. Because his connection to G‑d is based on his reason and understanding, it is limited. How does one break free?

Let us see what we can learn from the first two plagues, blood and frogs.

In Egypt, they worshiped the Nile River, the source of sustenance for their land and crops. In order to break their pride, the first plague hit the waters of the Nile, turning the water into blood. The nature of water is that it is cool and wet. This was the way of the Egyptians, namely to be cold or apathetic to G‑dliness. It was turned into blood, which is warm and full of life, as it says, "because the blood is the life force."

Holiness, by nature, is warm and full of life. The opposite of holiness is coldness, apathy.

When we are apathetic to spirituality, the door is open to everything that is unholy, and we are stuck in Egypt.

image.png

The plague of blood replaced Egyptian apathy with life-affirming fervor.

On the other hand, Egypt had a great fervor and passion for everything unholy. This means that there is also an unholy warmth when someone has a passion for the wrong thing.

To cool off this passion, G‑d sent the second plague, frogs. The frogs went everywhere, even in the ovens. Our sages learn from the frogs the idea of self-sacrifice.

You may ask: There were other creatures that came as plagues—lice, wild beasts and locusts—but they didn't go into the ovens. What is the significance of the frogs going into the ovens?

Ovens have fire in them, and they symbolize the heat and passion for the physical. Frogs are from the water, cold and wet, but at the same time, they did G‑d's will, to the extent that they went totally against their natural life-preserving instinct. The cold water creatures went into the fiery ovens and cooled them off. In other words, there is also a holy coldness, when one fosters a coldness towards the physical and the unholy—a frog in an oven.

The frogs came to deflate Pharaoh’s ego. They went into the ovens, extinguishing the passion and the false importance of the unholy that existed in Egypt.

Holy fervor breaks you free from unholy coldness, and holy coldness breaks you free from passion for the unholy.

image.png

To break free from a spiritual Egypt, one must first take a lesson from the blood and bring life and warmth into holy matters. This is because the beginning of all trouble comes from coldness.

It is a mistake to think that positive action alone is enough. If you don't bring warmth and passion into holiness, you will ultimately end up in the unholy.

This is why the evil inclination tries so hard to cool off your fervor towards holiness. He knows that trying to get you to do something wrong is futile. But if he could get you to be cold towards holiness, then you will end up doing wrong on your own.

Just as one needs to bring a warmth and life into holiness (blood), so must one foster a coldness towards the unholy (frogs).

In general, when it comes to doing what G‑d wants, there are two approaches: "refrain from bad" and "do good."The plague of frogs, coldness towards the unholy, falls in the category of "refraining from bad;" and the plague of blood, passion for holiness, falls in the category of "doing good."

Normally, the order is to first "refrain from bad," and then "do good." However, here the order is reversed, first blood and then frogs. Why?

It is true that when it comes to us, refraining from bad comes first. We work from the bottom up. However, when it comes to G‑d, He is coming from the top down. He floods the world with G‑dliness, and automatically there is no bad, so the order is reversed, first blood and then frogs.

Since the Torah tells us this story, that first came the blood and then the frogs, we should take a page from G‑d's playbook, doing good first. How does this work?

Flood your life with warmth and holiness and there won't be room for bad.

May you and your families be filled with warmth and holiness, and may we break free from our personal Egypt. That will lead to us breaking free from the Egypt we are all suffering from, this dark and bitter exile, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon!

bottom of page