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    All the frogs around you

    The plague of frogs, illustration from 1891

    Egypt must have been in a desperate state. There were frogs everywhere. Wherever you turned the plague was upon you.

    The nearest thing in my personal recollection was a time when Sydney was infested with moths. One evening I was trying to give a shi’ur in the Synagogue hall and my hands were working harder than my brain or my mouth, trying to wave the moths away but achieving little.

    Every time I got rid of a moth its family and friends replaced it. I even tried a joke about five books of Mothes.

    Eventually we got through the evening but whether the content of the shi’ur made any impact I really don’t know.

    Now translate that episode and magnify it many times and you get an inkling of the plague of frogs in Egypt.

    No wonder it was a relief to hear Moses saying to Pharaoh, “The frogs shall depart from you, and from your houses, and from your servants, and from your people” (Ex. 8:7).

    Note the order of the words – “you, your houses, your servants, your people”. They represent the human environment in four concentric circles.

    Joys have a ripple effect, and so do problems. If you are happy, the smile spreads beyond you. If you are sad, sick or anxious, the worry expands.

    From the ethical point of view this imposes a duty on each of us: look after yourself, yes – but look after your home too, and your associates, and your community as a whole.

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