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Parashat Vaera

The Quality of Anger

A very strange thing happened with the second plague in Egypt, the frog. Actually, if we go according to Rashi's interpretation, we see that the Egyptians themselves brought that plague upon themselves.

Regarding the plague of the frog, it is written: "And the frog came up and covered the land of Egypt" (Shemot, 8:2). We would expect to read "and the frogs came up". Why does the word frog appear in the singular?

According to Rashi: There was (only) one frog and (when) they struck at it, it would split apart into various teeming swarms. That is its midrashic explanation.

Let us focus on the moral in this source. A huge frog might be an attraction in a city zoo, but not necessarily a plague. What caused the plague? The Egyptians brought it on upon themselves! They began to strike the frog and saw that it gave birth to two, then four, then eight and so on.

They certainly perceived what was happening. Yet they didn't succeed in conquering their anger and so billions of frogs covered all of the land of Egypt.

Rabbi Ya'akov Kanievsky states in his book "Birkhat Peretz" :

"The more the frog spawned more frogs, the more their wrath inflamed them and they continued to strike at it until the land of Egypt was covered with frogs. This is to teach you that it is better for man to conquer his nature, to hear the scorn and not to reply and thus slowly, slowly the disagreement will settle down, rather than to return war and even add boiling oil to the flames of the division".

A personal story:

When I was eighteen years old, I was far from being a Rabbi. I had completed 12th grade in Argentina and was confused. I didn't know in which direction to continue…

After a few months of deliberation, I reached the conclusion that it was my calling to be a Graphics Designer. I shared my decision with my parents. It raised strong opposition in my family. My parents didn't agree that it was my life's calling. It wasn't -so they claimed- the right career for me. And to earn a living -so they informed me- wouldn't be simple.

I entered the university, and to be honest, wasn't exactly enthralled with my studies. But the important thing was to continue in order to show them that I wasn't wrong, that I would be the one to decide my life's agenda and not them, and that their opposition would get them nowhere...

During my second year of studies, the pressure lessened. I don't know whether they backed down as a strategic measure or out of despair, but that same year I left my studies.

An important rule that the frog plague teaches us is that of the quality of anger. Exaggerated anger only brings about the strengthening of the opposition and returns to us as a boomerang. It is very possible that if my parents hadn't lessened the pressure on me, a different Rabbi would be writing this commentary on Parashat VaEra.

This occurs in various areas. Sometimes a minor phenomenon in society receives a great deal of publicity and commentary in the media, resulting in the strengthening of the phenomenon instead of containing it.

Exaggerated anger spawns frogs.

So, the next time you see something infuriating, take a moment and thing about the frogs and only then decide: either learn to restrain yourself or spawn frogs everywhere…

Weekly Torah Portion

Old Hebrew Prayer Book
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