Monday, January 22, 2007

The Message of the Wind

This is a repost of last year's Parshas Bo post.

Right at the beginning of the parsha, Moshe warns Pharaoh of the impending plague of locust. Then the Torah tells us how the plague actually transpired:

יג וַיֵּט מֹשֶׁה אֶת-מַטֵּהוּ, עַל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, וַיהוָה נִהַג רוּחַ-קָדִים בָּאָרֶץ, כָּל-הַיּוֹם הַהוּא וְכָל-הַלָּיְלָה; הַבֹּקֶר הָיָה--וְרוּחַ הַקָּדִים, נָשָׂא אֶת-הָאַרְבֶּה

13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all the night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.

Why was the wind necessary? The only act that proceeded the earlier plagues was Moshe (or Aharon) hitting the ground or the river with a stick.

It seems like, for some reason, G-d wanted this plague to appear totally natural. The wind blew all night and in the morning they saw that wind was bringing in locust swarms. I assume that that is the way a locust swarm would usually arrive.

Perhaps G-d was saying (to the Egyptians as well as to the Jews), you all realized over the course of the last few months that I am the Master of the Universe, I can change the nature of water at will, I can cause an infestation of frogs to suddenly appear. But maybe you still don't understand that not only can I do all this supernatural stuff, I also control the natural events that happen all the time. Therefore, G-d sent this totally natural plague, complete with gusts of wind, and sandwiched it between two supernatural events to show everyone that from G-d's perspective there is no difference between the supernatural and nature.

The Ramban at the end of the Parsha says that the reason we are commanded to constantly remind ourselves of Yitziyas Mitzrayim (through mitzvos like shabbos, yom tov, teffilin, mezuzah) is not just to remember the shock and awe of the makkos and of yetziyas mitzrayim. The more important point is that through remembering the supernatural events that took place at yetziyas mitzrayim one will come to the realization that G-d controls every aspect of our natural existence as well.

That, I think, may be the message of the wind.

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