Vaera, Siman 14 וארא, י״ד
1 א

וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה הַשְׁכֵּם בַּבֹּקֶר וְהִתְיַצֵּב לִפְנֵי פַרְעֹה הִנֵּה יוֹצֵא הַמָּיְמָה (שמות ח, טז). לָמָּה הָיָה יוֹצֵא הַמָּיְמָה? לְפִי שֶׁהָיָה אוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע מִשְׁתַּבֵּחַ וְאוֹמֵר שֶׁהוּא אֱלוֹהַּ וְאֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא לִנְקָבָיו, לְפִיכָךְ הָיָה יוֹצֵא הַמַּיְמָה בְּהַשְׁכָּמָה, שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאוּהוּ בְּנֵי אָדָם שֶׁעוֹמֵד בְּקָלוֹן. לְכָךְ אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה: עֲמֹד בְּהַשְׁכָּמָה בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהוּא נִצְרָךְ, תְּפֹשׂ אוֹתוֹ וֶאֱמֹר לוֹ: כֹּה אָמַר ה' כִּי בַּפַּעַם הַזֹּאת אֲנִי שֹׁלֵחַ אֶת כָּל מַגֵּפֹתַי. בְּנֹהַג שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם, בָּשָׂר וָדָם שֶׁהוּא מְבַקֵּשׁ לְהָבִיא רָעָה עַל שׂוֹנְאוֹ, פִּתְאֹם מֵבִיא עָלָיו, שֶׁלֹּא יַרְגִּישׁ בּוֹ. וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הָיָה מַתְרֶה בּוֹ בְּפַרְעֹה הָרָשָׁע עַל כָּל מַכָּה וּמַכָּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: הִנֵּה יַד ה' הוֹיָה, (שמות ס, ג), הִנְנִי מַמְטִיר (שמות ט, ג), הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי נֹגֵף (שמות ז, כז), הִנְנִי מֵבִיא מָחָר (שמות ו, ז). וְכֵן כֻּלָּם.

And the Lord said unto Moses: “Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh from the water” (Exod. 8:16). Why did Pharaoh go to the waters early in the morning? Because the wicked one boasted that since he was a god, he had no need to go to the water to relieve himself. Therefore he went out early in the morning so that no one would see him performing a demeaning act. That is why the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: Rise up early in the morning, when he must (go out), and say unto him: Thus saith the Lord, the God of the Hebrews … for I will this time send all My plagues upon thy person, etc. (Exod. 9:14). Ordinarily, when a man desires to harm his enemy, he does so unexpectedly lest he be forewarned, but the Holy One, blessed be He, warned the wicked Pharaoh before each plague, as it is said: Behold, I will cause it to rain (ibid., v. 18), Behold, tomorrow will I bring locusts into thy border (ibid. 10:5). And He did so in each instance.

2 ב

זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: הֶן אֵל יַשְׂגִּיב בְּכֹחוֹ מִי כָמֹהוּ מוֹרֶה (איוב לו, כב). שֶׁהוּא מוֹרֶה לָרְשָׁעִים דֶּרֶךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה. אָמַר לוֹ לְפַרְעֹה: וְעַתָּה שְׁלַח הָעֵז אֶת מִקְנְךָ. לָמָּה? הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי מַמְטִיר. אַחַר כָּךְ הִנְנִי מֵבִיא מָחָר אַרְבֶּה בִּגְבוּלֶךָ. הַכֹּל בְּהַתְרָאָה.

Scripture says elsewhere: Behold, God doeth loftily in His power. Who is a teacher like unto Him? (Job 36:22); that is, He instructed the wicked ones to do penance. To Pharaoh He said: Now therefore, hasten in thy cattle (Exod. 9:19), and He warned him, For behold, I will cause it to rain (ibid., v. 18), and after that it is written: Behold, tomorrow will I bring locusts into thy border (ibid. 10:4). Each plague followed a warning.

3 ג

עֶשֶׂר מַכּוֹת כֻּלָּן מִדָּה כְּנֶגֶד מִדָּה. דָּם, לָמָּה הֵבִיא עָלָיו דָּם? לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ מַנִּיחִין בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל לִטְבֹּל מִטֻּמְאָתָם, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ פָּרִין וְרָבִין.

Each of the ten plagues was imposed for a specific reason. The plague of blood was inflicted upon them because they would not permit the daughters of Israel to bathe after their menstrual period lest they increase and multiply.13The laws of family purity require that women immerse in a ritual bath after menstruation before engaging in conjugal relations

4 ד

וּמִפְּנֵי מָה לָקוּ הַמַּיִם וְהֶעָפָר עַל יְדֵי אַהֲרֹן? שֶׁכָּךְ כְּתִיב: אֱמֹר אֶל אַהֲרֹן קַח מַטְּךָ וְגוֹ'. אָמַר רַבִּי תַּנְחוּם: אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה, הַמַּיִם שֶׁשְּׁמָרוּךָ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהֻשְׁלַכְתָּ לַיְאוֹר, וְעָפָר שֶׁהֵגֵן עָלֶיךָ כְּשֶׁהָרַגְתָּ אֶת הַמִּצְרִי, אֵינוֹ דִּין שֶׁיִּלְקוּ עַל יָדֶיךָ. לְפִיכָךְ לָקוּ עַל יְדֵי אַהֲרֹן.

Why were the water and the dust smitten with the rod by Aaron, as it is written: Say unto Aaron: “Take thy rod” (ibid. 7:9)? R. Tanhum stated: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: Since the water guarded you when you were placed in the Nile, and the dust protected you when you killed the Egyptian, it would not be proper for your hand to smite them with the plague. Therefore they were inflicted by Aaron.

5 ה

צְפַרְדְּעִים לָמָּה הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם? מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיוּ מִשְׁתַּעְבְּדִין בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וְאוֹמְרִים לָהֶן הָבִיאוּ לָנוּ שְׁקָצִים וּרְמָשִׂים, לְפִיכָךְ וַתַּעַל הַצְּפַרְדֵּעַ. בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהָיוּ מוֹזְגִין אֶת הַכּוֹס, מִתְמַלֵּא מִן הַצְּפַרְדְּעִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְעָלוּ וּבָאוּ בְבֵיתֶךָ וְגוֹ' וּבְמִשְׁאֲרוֹתֶיךָ. אֵימָתַי מִשְׁאֶרֶת מְצוּיָה אֵצֶל תַּנּוּר? בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהַתַּנּוּר חַם. כָּל כָּךְ לָמָּה? לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹן בּוֹרְאָם. כָּתוּב אֶחָד אוֹמֵר: וְשָׁרַץ הַיְאֹר צְפַרְדְּעִים. וְכָתוּב אֶחָד אוֹמֵר: וַתַּעַל הַצְּפַרְדֵּעַ. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר: צְפַרְדֵּעַ אַחַת הָיְתָה, וְהָיוּ הַמִּצְרִים מַכִּין אוֹתָהּ וּמַתֶּזֶת צְפַרְדְּעִים הַרְבֵּה.

He brought the plague of frogs upon them because they had enslaved Israel and had commanded them to bring reptiles and creeping things to them. That was the reason the frogs came up (ibid. 8:2). Whenever they filled their drinking cups, they found them full of frogs, as it is said: And they shall go and come unto thy house, and into thy kneading troughs (ibid. 7:29). When is the kneading trough near the oven? It is placed there when the oven is hot. Why did all of this happen? To fulfill the wishes of their Creator. One verse states: And the river shall swarm with frogs (ibid. 7:28), while another says: And the frog came up (ibid. 8:2). R. Akiba explained it as follows: At first there was only one frog, but after the Egyptians struck it, many frogs sprang from it.

6 ו

כִּנִּים לָמָּה? שֶׁשָּׂמוּ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מְכַבְּדֵי חוּצוֹת וּשְׁוָקִים, לְפִיכָךְ נֶהְפַּךְ עֲפָרָם לְכִנִּים, וְהָיוּ חוֹפְרִין אַמָּה עַל אַמָּה וְלֹא הָיָה שָׁם עָפָר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: כָּל עֲפַר הָאָרֶץ הָיָה כִּנִּים. וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כֵן הַחַרְטֻמִּים בְּלָטֵיהֶם. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: בְּלָטֵיהֶם, מַעֲשֵׂה שֵׁדִים. בְּלַהֲטֵיהֶם, מַעֲשֵׂה כְּשָׁפִים. לְפִי שֶׁאֵין הַשֵּׁד יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת פָּחוֹת מִכַּשְּׂעוֹרָה.

Why were the gnats brought upon them? Because they had forced Israel to become sweepers in their streets and their marketplaces. Therefore He turned the dust into gnats so that even though they dug many cubits into the earth, they found no soil. As it is said: And all the dust of the earth became gnats (ibid., v. 13). And the magicians did so with their secret arts … but they could not (ibid., v. 14). R. Johanan said: Belateihem (“with their secret arts”) refers to the work of demons, and the belehatim (ibid. 7:11) refers to works of sorcery. Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh: “This is the finger of God” (Exod. 8:14), since no demon can produce anything smaller than the size of a barley.

7 ז

עָרוֹב לָמָּה? שֶׁהָיוּ הַמִּצְרִים אוֹמְרִים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, צְאוּ הָבִיאוּ לָנוּ דֻּבִּים וַאֲרָיוֹת, כְּדֵי לִהְיוֹת מְצֵרִין בָּהֶם, לְפִיכָךְ הֵבִיא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עֲלֵיהֶן חַיּוֹת מְעֻרְבָּבוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיָּבֹא עָרֹב כָּבֵד. דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי יְהוּדָה. רַבִּי נְחֶמְיָה אוֹמֵר: מִינֵי צְפַרְדְּעִין וְיַתּוּשִׁין. וְנִרְאִין דְּבָרָיו שֶׁל רַבִּי יְהוּדָה. בַּצְּפַרְדְּעִים, כְּתִיב וַיִּצְבְּרוּ אֹתָם חֳמָרִם חֳמָרִם, וּבֶעָרוֹב כְּתִיב: וַיַּעַשׂ ה' כִּדְבַר מֹשֶׁה וַיָּסַר הֶעָרֹב. צְפַרְדְּעִים שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בָּהֶן הֲנָאָה, מֵתוּ וְהִסְרִיחוּ מִצְרַיִם. עָרוֹב שֶׁהָיָה הֲנָאָה בְּעוֹרוֹתֵיהֶן, לֹא נִשְׁאַר עַד אֶחָד. שֶׁאִלּוּ הָיוּ צְרָעִין וְיַתּוּשִׁין, הָיָה לָהֶן שֶׁיָּמוּתוּ וְיַסְרִיחוּ בְּמִצְרַיִם. וַיָּבֹא עָרֹב כָּבֵד בֵּיתָה פַרְעֹה תְּחִלָּה, שֶׁהוּא הִתְחִיל בְּעֵצָה רָעָה עֲלֵיהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיְצַו פַּרְעֹה לְכָל עַמּוֹ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ וּבְכָל אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם תִּשָּׁחֵת הָאָרֶץ וְגוֹ'.

Why were swarms of wild beasts sent? Because they had told the Israelites, “Go, bring us bears and lions,” so that they could torment them with these beasts. Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, turned many kinds of wild beasts against them to confound them, as it is said: And there came grievous swarms of beasts (ibid., v. 20).14Word-play on ‘arob (“mixture, many kinds”) and ur’babot (“confusion”). See Exodus Rabbah 11. This is the opinion of R. Judah. However, R. Nehemiah said: These were various kinds of hornets and mosquitos. R. Judah’s opinion appears most likely to be correct. In the case of the frogs, it is written: And they gathered them together in heaps (ibid., v. 10), but in reference to the swarms, it is written: And the Lord did according to the word of Moses, and He removed the swarms of beasts (ibid., v. 9). The frogs, which had nothing pleasant about them, remained and made Egypt smell bad, but the beasts, whose skins were useful, did not remain. If they had been hornets and mosquitos, when they died, they too would have (made Egypt) smell bad. And there came grievous swarms of beasts into the house of Pharaoh (ibid., v. 20). They came to Pharaoh first because he was the first to counsel evil against them, as it is said: And Pharaoh charged all his people (ibid., v. 18). After that it is written: And in all the land of Egypt the land was ruined.

8 ח

דֶּבֶר לָמָּה? מִפְּנֵי שֶׁשָּׂמוּ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל רוֹעֵי בָקָר וְרוֹעֵי צֹאן וְרוֹעֵי גְּמַלִּים בְּהָרִים וּבְקָעוֹת וּבְמִדְבָּרוֹת, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִפְרוּ וְיִרְבּוּ. אָמַר לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: אֲנִי אָבִיא לָכֶם רוֹעֶה יָפֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: הִנֵּה יַד ה' הוֹיָה וְגוֹ'. וַיִּשְׁלַח פַּרְעֹה וְהִנֵּה לֹא מֵת מִמִּקְנֵה וְגוֹ'. אֲפִלּוּ בְּהֵמָה חֶצְיָהּ שֶׁל מִצְרִי וְחֶצְיָהּ שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֹא מֵתָה.

Why did He bring murrain upon them? Because they had forced the Israelites to pasture their oxen, sheep, and cattle in the valleys, the hills, and the deserts, so that the Israelites would not be able to increase and multiply.15He separated the men and women by sending the men to pasture their flocks in remote places. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them: I will bring you an excellent shepherd, as it is said: Behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle (ibid. 9:3). And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the cattle of the Israelites dead (ibid., v. 7). Indeed, even the animals that were owned jointly by Israelites and Egyptians did not die.

9 ט

שְׁחִין, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁשָּׂמוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לָחֹם לָהֶם חַמִּין וּלְצַנֵּן לָהֶם צוֹנֵן, לְפִיכָךְ לָקוּ בַּשְּׁחִין, שֶׁלֹּא יָכְלוּ לִגַּע בְּגוּפָן. אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי: נֵס גָּדוֹל נַעֲשָׂה בַּשְּׁחִין. שֶׁאִם אָדָם זוֹרֵק חֵץ כְּלַפֵּי מַעְלָה, אֵינוֹ מְהַלֵּךְ מֵאָה אַמָּה. וּמֹשֶׁה זָרַק פִּיחַ כִּבְשָׁן מְלֹא חָפְנָיו, מַה שֶּׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לִטֹּל מְלֹא חָפְנָיו וְאֵין בּוֹ מַמָּשׁ, וּזְרָקוֹ מֹשֶׁה הַשָּׁמַיְמָה עַד כִּסֵּא הַכָּבוֹד. וְעוֹד נֵס גָּדוֹל הָיָה בַּשְּׁחִין, שֶׁהֶחֱזִיקָה מְלֹא יָדָיו שֶׁל מֹשֶׁה, מְלֹא יָדוֹ שֶׁלּוֹ וְשֶׁל אַהֲרֹן. וְעוֹד נֵס אַחֵר נַעֲשָׂה בַּשְּׁחִין. אָדָם מְפַזֵּר עָפָר קַב אֶחָד, אֵין מְפַזֵּר אֶלָּא אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת. אֲבָל מֹשֶׁה, נָטַל מְלֹא יָדוֹ וּפִזְּרוֹ עַל כָּל אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם שֶׁהָיְתָה אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת פַּרְסָה עַל אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת פַּרְסָה.

Why did He afflict them with boils? Because they had compelled the Israelites to keep warm the things that were warm, and to keep cold the things that were cold. Therefore they were smitten with boils so that they would be unable to touch their own bodies (and derive any pleasure from such touch). R. Joshua the son of Levi declared that a great miracle took place in connection with the boils. If a man shoots an arrow upwards, it cannot travel more than a hundred cubits, yet Moses cast a handful of soot from a furnace heavenward, and though it is almost impossible to grasp a handful of soot, since it has no body, it soared upward until it reached the throne of glory. Another great miracle happened in connection with the boils. Moses took a handful of soot and filled Aaron’s hand as well as his own with it. Still another miracle occurred in connection with the boils. A man cannot possibly scatter a measure of dust more than four cubits, yet Moses took a mere handful and spread it over the land of Egypt, four hundred by four hundred parasangs in area.

10 י

בָּרָד, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁשָּׂמוּ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל נוֹטְעֵי גַּנּוֹת וּפַרְדֵּסִים וְאִילָנוֹת וּכְרָמִים. לְפִיכָךְ הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶן בָּרָד וְשִׁבֵּר אִילָנוֹתֵיהֶן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיְהִי בָרָד. וְאֵשׁ מִתְלַקַּחַת בְּתוֹךְ הַבָּרָד, נֵס בְּתוֹךְ נֵס. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה וְרַבִּי נְחֶמְיָה. חַד אָמַר, כִּפְרֵטָתָא דְרֻמָּנָא דְּחַרְצָנִיתֵהּ מִתְחַמְיָא מִלְּגָאו. וְחַד אָמַר, כְּהָדֵין עֲשָׁשִׁיתָא דְּמַיָּא וּמִשְׁחָא מִתְעָרְבָה כַּחֲדָא וְנוּרָא דָּלִיק מִגַּוֵּיהוֹן.

Why was the hail brought upon them? Because they had made Israel plant gardens, trees, parks, and vineyards. Hence they afflicted them with hail, which destroyed their trees, as it is said: So there was hail, and fire flashing up amidst the hail (ibid., v. 24). This was an instance of a miracle transpiring within another miracle.16Since hail and fire existed at the same time. R. Judah and R. Nehemiah discussed this matter. The former said: The fire flashing up amidst the rain appeared like a split pomegranate whose seeds are visible from without, while the latter said: It was like a light burning in a glass that contained a mixture of water and oil.

11 יא

מָשָׁל לְמַה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה? לִשְׁנֵי לִגְיוֹנוֹת קָשִׁין שֶׁשּׂוֹנְאִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. לְיָמִים הִגִּיעַ זְמַן מִלְחַמְתּוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ. מֶה עָשָׂה הַמֶּלֶךְ? עָשָׂה שָׁלוֹם בֵּינֵיהֶם וְהָלְכוּ וְעָשׂוּ שְׁלִיחוּת הַמֶּלֶךְ. כָּךְ אֵשׁ וּבָרָד צְהֻבִּין זֶה לָזֶה. כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ זְמַן מִלְחַמְתָּהּ שֶׁל מִצְרַיִם, עָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שָׁלוֹם בֵּינֵיהֶם וְהִכּוּ בְּמִצְרַיִם. הֱוֵי, וַיְהִי בָרָד וְאֵשׁ מִתְלַקַּחַת בְּתוֹךְ הַבָּרָד. הָיָה יוֹשֵׁב מִצְרִי, נִכְוָה בַּבָּרָד. עוֹמֵד, נִכְוָה בָּאֵשׁ, כְּמִשְׁפַּט רְשָׁעִים בַּגֵּיהִנָּם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: יַהֲרֹג בַּבָּרָד גַּפְנָם וְשִׁקְמוֹתָם בַּחֲנָמַל (תהלים עח, מז). רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בַר שַׁלּוּם אוֹמֵר: מַהוּ וְשִׁקְמוֹתָם בַּחֲנָמַל? בָּ״‎א נָ״‎ח מָ״‎ל. וְרַבִּי פִּינְחָס אוֹמֵר: יוֹרֵד בְּפֶלְכִּין וְקוֹצֵץ אֶת הָאִילָנוֹת.

What may this be compared to? To two powerful legionaries who have despised each other for a long time. When their king became involved in a war, he made peace between them so that they would go forth together to fulfill the king’s command. Similarly, though fire and hail are hostile to each other, when the time for war with Egypt came, the Holy One, blessed be He, made peace between them and they smote Egypt. Hence it is said: The fire flashing up amidst the hail. When an Egyptian was seated he would be pummeled by hail; when he arose he would be scorched by fire in conformity to the punishments meted out to wicked men in the netherworld, as it is said: He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with frost (Ps. 78:47). R. Judah the son of Shalum said: What is the meaning of their sycamore trees with frost (ba-hanamal)? Ba indicated that it came; han, that it alighted upon them; mal, that it cut everything down. R. Phinehas declared: It descended like an axe cutting down the trees.

12 יב

אַרְבֶּה לָמָּה? מִפְּנֵי שֶׁשָּׂמוּ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל זוֹרְעֵי חִטִּין וּשְׂעוֹרִים, לְפִיכָךְ הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶן אַרְבֶּה וְאָכְלוּ כָּל מַה שֶּׁזָּרְעוּ לָהֶם יִשְׂרָאֵל. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: כֵּיוָן שֶׁבָּא אַרְבֶּה, שָׂמְחוּ הַמִּצְרִים וְאָמְרוּ, נְקַבֵּץ וְנִשְׁלֹק מֵהֶן, נְמַלֵּא מֵהֶן חָבִיּוֹת. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: רְשָׁעִים, בַּמַּכָּה שֶׁהֵבֵאתִי עֲלֵיכֶם אַתֶּם הֱיִיתֶם שְׂמֵחִין. מִיָּד וַיַּהֲפֹךְ ה' רוּחַ יָם חָזָק מְאֹד וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת הָאַרְבֶּה, לֹא נִשְׁאַר אַרְבֶּה אֶחָד בְּכֹל גְּבוּל מִצְרָיִם. אֲפִלּוּ מַה שֶּׁבַּקְּדֵרוֹת וּבֶחָבִיּוֹת מְלוּחִין, פָּרְחוּ וְהָלְכוּ לָהֶן.

Why were locusts inflicted upon them? Because they had compelled the Israelites to sow wheat and grain. For that reason the Holy One, blessed be He, brought locusts upon them to consume everything that the Israelites had sown. R. Johanan said: When the locusts came, the Egyptians rejoiced, saying: “We will collect them, boil them, and fill our barrels with them.” The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Wicked ones, would you obtain an advantage from a plague that I have brought upon you? Whereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, brought a very strong west wind that drove the locusts into the Red Sea; There remained not one locust in all the border of Egypt (ibid. 10:19). Even those that were in jars and in barrels sprouted wings and flew away.

13 יג

חֹשֶׁךְ לָמָּה? יִתְבָּרַךְ שְׁמוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁאֵין לְפָנָיו מַשּׂוֹא פָּנִים, וְהוּא חוֹקֵר לֵב וּבוֹחֵן כְּלָיוֹת. לְפִי שֶׁהָיוּ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל פּוֹשְׁעִין שֶׁהָיָה לָהֶם פַּטְרוֹנִין מִן הַמִּצְרִים, וְהָיָה לָהֶם שָׁם כָּבוֹד וָעֹשֶׁר וְלֹא הָיוּ רוֹצִין לָצֵאת מִמִּצְרַיִם, אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: אִם אֲנִי אָבִיא עֲלֵיהֶן מַכָּה בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא וְיָמוּתוּ, יֹאמְרוּ הַמִּצְרִים, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁעָבַר עָלֵינוּ, כָּךְ עָבַר עֲלֵיהֶן. לְפִיכָךְ הֵבִיא עַל הַמִּצְרִים אֶת הַחֹשֶׁךְ שְׁלֹשָׁה יָמִים, וְלֹא רָאוּ אִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו. וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבֹתָם. וּכְתִיב: וְיָמֵשׁ חֹשֶׁךְ. אָמַר רַבִּי אַבְדִּימִי בַּר חָמָא: אוֹתוֹ חֹשֶׁךְ כָּפוּל וּמְכֻפָּל הָיָה. הָיָה מִצְרִי עוֹמֵד, אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לֵישֵׁב, יוֹשֵׁב, אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לַעֲמֹד. רָבוּץ, לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל לִזְקֹף. הַמַּכּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ, שְׁלֹשָׁה עַל יְדֵי אַהֲרֹן, וּשְׁלֹשָׁה עַל יְדֵי מֹשֶׁה, וּשְׁלֹשָׁה עַל יְדֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, וְאַחַת עַל יְדֵי כֻּלָּן. דָּם צְפַרְדֵּעַ וְכִנִּים שֶׁהָיוּ בָּאָרֶץ, עַל יְדֵי אַהֲרֹן. בָּרָד אַרְבֶּה חֹשֶׁךְ שֶׁהֵן בָּאֲוִיר, עַל יְדֵי מֹשֶׁה, שֶׁכָּךְ שָׁלַט מֹשֶׁה בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ. עָרוֹב דֶּבֶר מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת, עַל יְדֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא. וּשְׁחִין עַל יְדֵי כֻּלָּן.

Why was darkness inflicted upon them? Because the King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, shows no partiality, and searches the heart and tries the kidneys of all. He brought darkness upon them because there were sinners in Israel who had Egyptian patrons, and enjoyed honor and wealth, and were unwilling to leave. And the Holy One, blessed be He, said: If I bring a plague upon them in broad daylight, from which they will die, the Egyptians will say that just as it passed over us, so does it pass over them. Hence, He brought darkness upon the Egyptians for three days, and they saw not one another (ibid., v. 23). The children of Israel had light in their dwellings, so that they could bury their dead without being seen by their enemies. Even darkness which may be felt (ibid., v. 21) is written. R. Abdimi the son of Hama said: The darkness was doubled and redoubled. An Egyptian who was standing was unable to sit, while one who was sitting was unable to stand, and one lying down could not rise. Three of the plagues were brought by Aaron, three by Moses, three by God, and one through the combined efforts of all of them. The blood, frogs, and gnats, which came from the earth, were brought by Aaron; the hail, locusts, and darkness, which came out of the air, were brought about by Moses, for he had power over earth and heaven; the swarms, the murrain, and the plague of the firstborn were brought about by God; while the boils were brought about by all of them.

14 יד

וּבִשְׁלֹשֶׁת יְמֵי הָאֲפֵלָה נָתַן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת חֵן הָעָם בְּעֵינֵי מִצְרַיִם וַיַּשְׁאִלוּם. וְהָיָה יִשְׂרָאֵל נִכְנָס לְתוֹךְ בָּתֵּיהֶן שֶׁל מִצְרַיִם וְהָיוּ שׁוֹאֲלִין מֵהֶן כְּלֵי כֶּסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב וּשְׂמָלוֹת. אִם הָיוּ אוֹמְרִים אֵין לָנוּ לְהַשְׁאִיל, הָיָה מֵאִיר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁהָיוּ שָׁם, וְהָיָה אוֹמֵר לוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל, הֲרֵי הוּא בְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי, לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יֵצְאוּ בִּרְכֻשׁ גָּדוֹל.

During the three days of darkness, the Holy One, blessed be He, made the Egyptians feel kindly toward the Israelites, and they loaned them many things. When an Israelite entered an Egyptian’s home and tried to borrow utensils of silver or gold, or garments, they would reply: “We have nothing to loan you.” Whereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, would illumine their dwellings, and the Israelite would say to them: “There it is, in that place.” This happened in order to fulfill the verse And afterwards shall they come out with great substance (Gen. 15:14).