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Vaeira: Fishy Situation

Fish nail art plague blood

This week’s Parasha features the first seven of the ten plagues. Why is blood the first plague to hit Egypt? Nahum Sarna, a modern Bible commentator, explains how the plague of blood served to target the polytheistic beliefs of the Egyptians. The Egyptians worshiped the Nile and assigned it to one of their gods. The contamination of the Nile as a result of this plague therefore discredited that god. Sarna also explains that fish were a staple of the Egyptian diet. When Bnai Yisrael complained to God about the Manna that they were tired of eating in the desert, they said “We remember the fish that we used to eat free in Egypt…” (Bamidbar 11:5). The rotting of the fish, caused by this plague, was another blow to Egyptian morale, routine, and diet. Do you find Sarna’s explanations compelling. Why or why not? In your opinion, which reason provided by Sarna had more of an impact on the life of the average Egyptian?

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