April 2, 2018

My name is Isis and I want to tell you my family story. That’s right “Isis”. No, not like the terrorist organization. Like the Egyptian goddess. Isis. Haven’t you ever heard of Isis. The fertility goddess. I am Egyptian. No, not like modern Egyptian Arabs. They came here with the Islamic conquest. I’m an original Egyptian. You know, like the pharaohs. Like the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt. Some people call us Copts. You thought we were extinct? Well, we’re not. We’ve just been a subjugated minority under Arab Islamic rule. Anyway, I want to tell you my family story.

At about this time of year, Jews are celebrating their release from Egyptian slavery. But they never stop to think about some of the plagues. Like frogs. What’s the bid deal with frogs? Some people keep frogs as pets. The French eat frogs. How could frogs be a plague meant to cause the Egyptians to want to release the Hebrews? What about lice? Haven’t you ever sent a child to camp and gotten them back with a head full of lice. Ok, so it’s annoying but you shampoo once and then twice and clean the house and couches and the beds and the sheets and blankets and check everyone else’s head for lice and then your done. Would you give up your car or your computer (that’s how we thought of slaves in Ancient Egypt) because of lice? I don’t think so.

The biblical text doesn’t tell us how exactly what happened happened but the Jewish midrash gives us some hints. The plague of the frogs was not originally the plague of the frogs. It was the Attack of the Giant Frog. A huge Frog Monster came out of the Nile. It ate everything in its path, including people. It jumped on homes and left its slime all over Egypt. When Pharoah sent the warriors to destroy the creature, they could not. They swung their swords and injured the Frog Monster. The blood dripped onto the ground and in front of the soldiers’ very eyes transformed into little frogs who were growing at an exponential rate. Thus the plague of the Frog became the plague of the Frogs. The Frog Monster’s wound healed within a minute and it was just as large and dangerous as before. The small frogs grew and grew and became Frog Monsters. When the brave warriors attacked the new Frog Monsters their blood too transformed into small frogs that grew and grew and became Frog Monsters.

These Frog Monsters devastated Egypt. One could not go anywhere without being enveloped in Frog slime. The roads were filled with the stuff. Even Pharoah’s chariots were incapacitated. The Frog Monsters stuck out their large sticky tongues and caught people, bringing them into their mouths. The Frogs were so huge that to them we, human beings, were flies -lunch. It was terrible. Finally Pharoah gave into Moses’ demands and the frogs were supposed to go away and go away they did. We thought that now things would be quiet until it showed up. The most gruesome disgusting insect you have ever seen. The attack of the Giant Louse.

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February 10, 2017

A poem for Parashat BeShalach

By Rabbi Royi Shaffin

I am that fish

The fish that was cut in half when the sea parted

You never think about me when you read the story

But I was cut in half

To this day I swim in the sea

They call me the Moses Fish

Why didn’t God move me away from the edge before the Sea parted?

I don’t know

Why did I have to be cut in half?

I don’t know

Maybe because the entire story is about being cut in half

Moses was cut in half between his Egyptian family and his Hebrew family

The Israelites were cut in half between the comforts of Egypt, even as slaves, and the promise of a better life in the promised land

The people were cut in half between worshipping God and worshipping a golden calf

I am that fish that was cut in half

I was not the first to be cut in half

Abraham cut his sacrifices in half

Isaac was almost cut in half

Joseph’s coat was cut in half

Samson’s hair was cut in half

Samuel’s coat was cut as the kingdom was taken from Saul

I am that fish that was cut in half

On the eighth day they cut their children

On the Sabbath they cut their bread

Their meat they cut in their own special way

I am that fish that was cut in half

I swim through the Sea

And every so often

People see me and are reminded of that day that cut me in half

When the Sea was cut in half and the Children cut through on dry land

I am that fish that was cut in half
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