Tuesday, April 15, 2008

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The Tenth Plague

We recall the makas b'choros, the slaying of the Egyptian first-born, on the first two nights of

Passover, the most terrible of the ten plagues with which He afflicted Egypt.

As in all instances of divine intercession into human affairs, fathoming

His intent, plan and ways lies beyond our intellectual grasp.

After all, who are we, but the pinnacle of His creation, to presume

that we can fathom the reasons for which He does anything?

We are limited to prayer and praise.

We can conjecture, however, that He slew the bechorim,

all the Egyptian first-born of the land, to unequivocally demonstrate

to Pharoah, a first-born himself, but spared the terrible fate of that night,

that his only choice-other than to bring utter destruction to his

country-would be to proclaim the greatness of the One God,

Ha Shem Yisborach, and thereby let the descendants of Jacob go.

His subsequent release of B’nai Yisrael, a decision he later reversed at Yam Suf,

(commonly translated as the Red Sea) cost him dearly.

We can, I believe, safely infer most Egyptian families had

more than one child. At the center of the slaying of the first-born is

not only the immeasurable power of God, but His

ability to slay the first male without causing collateral harm to

his younger siblings.

The birth of a bechor places him at the top of the birth

order. That fact alone distinguishes him from his siblings. As

happens in many youthful marriages, he is born at a time

when, not too many years before, his mother and father were

the children of their once youthful parents. We set him apart

from his younger siblings-not because we love him any the

more-but that his childhood begins when ours ends. Should

he predecease us, a part of us dies too ... the remnant of an

earlier time in our lives, faint tracings of our own childhood.

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