This week we again read of the great plagues, the Esser Makkos. Ten plagues, from Blood all the way to the Killing of the First Born. Some plagues, like the Killing of the First Born, are very frightening. Others, like the frogs, sound more like Moishe Rabbeinu got drunk and acted on a dare from Kulaiv Ben Yefuneh (Voos iz givven tzfardayah?)
According to a Tosefta in Makkois, the reason the severity of the plagues was so inconsistent is that, truth be told, the Aimishteh should have had better input from his political advisors. Moishe Rabbeinu and Aron Hacoihain should have made a suggestion or two, backed up by data and a business case presented in Powerpoint. (For example, my Rebbe muvhak, the NPOJHARTHA, is always open to new ideas; just last Shabbos he agreed with my suggestion that one small package of bacon added to a large pot of cholent would be Battul B'Shishim, and would help bring out a delicious smoky flavor. Boruch Hashem.)
I'm sure the Aimshteh would have welcomed some additonal thoughts. But Moishe was likely off making a little extra cash doing magic tricks with his Makkel at a bachelorette party. And Aron Hacoihain was probably too busy polishing the gold for the Eigel Hazahav.
So here are a few suggestions for some new plagues to bring upon the Egyptians, three and a half thousand years too late: New Plague #1 -- Ingrown toe nails. New Plague #2 -- Excessive flatulence. New Plague #3 -- Jock itch. New Plague #4 -- Yoko Ono.
But even with these latter day suggestions, the plagues must still conclude with the most horrific plague of all, Makkas Bechoirois, the Killing of the First Born. Which leads to a key question posed by the RASHBAM: Why did the Reboinoisheloilum choose to kill the first born? Why didn't He kill the youngest? Or the ugliest? Or the dumbest? Or even better, the ones with the hottest wives?
The RADAK adds on to this question: What does Hakkadoshboruchhu have against the eldest anyway? Look at the pattern:
• Plague #10 -- Killing of the First Born
• Yitzchak Hatzadik becomes the favored son over his older brother Yishmael, the Anti-Semite
• Yankif Avinu gains the birthright over his hairy elder twin, Aisav the Mamzer
• Moishe Rabbeinu leads Klal Yisroel out of Mitzrayim to the Promised Land, while Aron Hakoihain, the Minuval, has to support himself by slaughtering sheep for tips.
To answer this question, the Toldois Aharoin quotes a tremendously obscure Medrish that tells us that the Aimishteh Himself had an older brother who used to beat Him up all throughout high school, and who even stole His high school sweetheart, Asherah. As a result, the Rebboinoisheloilum has it in for all first born sons, and He started His cycle of revenge with His own older brother. According to the Medrish, the Reboinoisheloilum got back at His brother by inducing him to give up his birthright in exchange for a bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and a McDonald's Happy Meal.
But, the MAHARAL asks, Adderabbah, were the plagues even necessary in the first place? Why be so harsh on the Egyptians? Was it necessary to wreak violent havoc across the whole of Mitzrayim in order to take revenge? Why not just charge them more interest and processing fees, and refuse to discount off the retail price for at least six months?
The MAHARAL goes on to answer that the Aimishteh acted with such wrath because the Egyptians hated the Jews so much. Those Antisemittin! And what did we ever do? Just because we used their baby's blood in our Matzoh -- They should get over it already!
But it was their incessant Anti-Semitism that bound us together as a cohesive nation, so that we could be rescued and delivered to the Promised Land.
And to this day, Anti-Semitism is what keeps us together.
A Maisseh Shehoyo: Just a few weeks ago I went to the Bronx, the first time I had been back since the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the Yankees in eight games. I'm walking down a busy street, black velvet yarmulke prominently displayed, waiting to be attacked by a shaygitz. Nothing. I've got my payis hanging down, my tsitsis flying in the breeze, and I'm collecting interest on my IRA. Still nothing. So I scream out, "Goyim, am I too frum to be hated?!" Still nothing.
The whole incident upset me so much that I had to step into the nearest restaurant, sit down, and order some traifus.
To be honest with you, without Anti-Semitism I worry for the Jewish people. To quote the motto of the A.D.L., “Rampant Anti-Semitism is a horrible thing; but a little Anti-Semitism is good for business.”
Ah Gutten Shabbos You Minuval