Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Nissan 5761 - April 4, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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A Remnant of the Plague of Frogs?
by D. Leitner

Each of the ten plagues that Hashem brought on the Egyptians had its unique features and phenomena, as each one was sent to teach and demonstrate a new aspect of Hashem's rulership of the world. The second plague of frogs is no exception, and I would like to share some interesting phenomena of this plague.

We learn in the Chumash that when Moshe was told to go and warn Pharaoh that an impending plague of Frogs would be sent against the country if Pharaoh refused to allow the Yidden to leave, the word "frogs" is always mentioned in the plural.

When the plague actually smote Egypt, the Torah writes Vata'al hatzefardei'a, the frog came, using the singular form.

Rashi explains that when the actual plague arrived, it began with only one frog and this single frog multiplied until frogs occupied the whole land of Egypt, and they were not afraid to enter the Egyptian homes, their bedrooms, the Egyptian beds, their kneading troughs and their ovens.

The source of the Rashi is the gemora in Sanhedrin 67, where the gemora brings a discussion between Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Elozor Ben Azarioh: Tzefardei'a achas hoisoh, hishritzoh unmol'oh kol eretz Mitzrayim, it was a single frog that swarmed and filled all the land of Egypt -- to which Rashi adds the words, hishritzoh mimei'eho veyoldoh velodos, it swarmed from its stomach and bore tadpoles. Rabbi Elozor Ben Azarioh learned however, Tzefardei'a achas hoiso, sherokoh lohem veheim bo'u, it began with one frog which croaked and the others came. To this Rashi adds: The single frog croaked to them, veshom'u koloh kol hatzefarde'im shebo'olom, veheim bo'u, this single frog croaked and all the frogs of the world (on hearing this tune) came to Egypt. The frogs of the world were attracted by the tune of this singular frog.

The Rokeach actually explains the word tzefardei'a as being made up of two words: tzippor dei'oh:, a bird with understanding (of how to attract other frogs).

It is extremely interesting that there exists a frog known as the Red-Eyed Tree-Frog that inhabits the Caribbean rain forests of Puerto Rico. It is also commonly known as a "bird frog" (Agalychnis callidryas). Although it looks like a frog and belongs to the frog family, it has some very unusual characteristics.

First it is known as the bird frog because instead of making the usual croaky sound of a frog, it actually sings like a bird and is famous for its beautiful voice. In Puerto Rico guided tours are available to the rain forest which are organized for the sole purpose of listening to the unique singing of the bird frog. The inspiring tune of this frog actually attracts other frogs by the thousands.

From all the biological family of frogs, the tree frog is the most mellow, and it is known not to be frightened of humans at all. They possess bright red eyes and colorful bodies that make them look extremely frightening. They also possess suction cup toe pads which aid them when attaching themselves to articles, allowing them to hang upside down for long periods of time and holding on so tightly that it can be difficult to remove them.

The mother frog lays about 300 eggs at a time and all the 300 tadpoles hatch simultaneously -- within a total time span of only one minute.

It is perhaps this bird frog that could have been the initial frog that descended on Egypt and, through its beautiful singing, attracted all other frogs to join him in invading the Egyptian continent.

Now we can understand how through this phenomenal reproduction of 300 new frogs, all produced in one minute, one frog produced a plague of swarming frogs. Its unique suction feet would also help it to attach itself to the Egyptian kitchen utensils and bedrooms, and make it almost impossible for the Egyptians to remove these creatures. Its bright red eyes and brightly colored body produced a very frightening experience.

This single bird frog has all the characteristics quoted by the various opinions of Chazal.


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