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This week's portion: plagued

In parashat Vaera, this week, we read about God empowering Moses to inflict plagues on the Egyptians, and about Pharaoh's heart being hardened so that he was unable to respond compassionately to the disasters unfolding around him.

I found my own way in to the portion by reflecting on the plague of caterpillars we experienced here last May and June:

I found the caterpillars strangely unsettling, as if the earth had tilted on its axis and the benevolent universe weren't quite trustworthy anymore. For a few weeks, I was miserable. The loss of spring's precious green affected me emotionally, and I was unaccountably sad every time I looked out the window or left the safe harbor of our house. I still worry in my dreams that our house is seeded with their cocoons. That was a single plague, and it only affected me in visual and emotional ways, but it struck deep.

So this year, as we read about the infliction of the ten plagues upon the Egyptians, I shudder in ways I hadn't, before. Knowing how distressing I found a single infestation, I can begin to imagine the impact of the ten plagues on the Egyptian people.

From there, I moved into a short exploration of what natural disasters might mean, in our texts and in our lives.

Read the whole thing here: Plagued.

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