Bopping The Frog

One of the first plagues God visited on the Egyptians was the plague of frogs. In our imaginations we visualize thousands, maybe even millions, of frogs exiting the Nile and swarming over the land. Certainly that is the image portrayed by C.B. DeMille, who filmed it as it actually happened.

It is surprising, therefore, to read the commentator Rashi’s statement that there was, in fact, only one frog to begin with. Rabbi Ozer Alport explains Rashi’s statement. Evidently, the Egyptians did not like the frog, and they hit it in an attempt to kill it or make it go away. Unknown to the Egyptians, the frog had a miraculous quality, and every time the frog was hit, it actually multiplied into more frogs.

We can understand that the first few people who hit the frog in anger and dislike would not have known what would happen. But once it became obvious that the frog would multiply, why did they continue to hit the frogs? Didn’t they realize that each successive hit was counterproductive? More hits meant more frogs, and a bad situation became even worse.

There is a basic flaw in the very question. When one responds out of hatred and anger, one is no longer able to respond rationally. A rational Egyptian would have quickly realized that hitting the frog only made matters worse. Rational. But obsessed with anger and hatred, Egypt responded irrationally and kept inflaming the situation. Rational thinking would have said to stop. Hatred blinds us to the very outcome of our own actions.

Read the news that bombards us every day. We hate because of religion or race or gender orientation or national origin or just about anything else we want to use to make us feel superior.

And the tide of frogs continues to rise.

Rabbi Stanley Halpern