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Daniel and Karl use Chapter 9 of Exodus as an opportunity to talk about idealism and realism, trauma and hope.  In particular, they discuss ideas articulated in Rabbi David Hartman’s article “Auschwitz or Sinai?”  You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or your favorite podcast supplier, or listen to it below.  Show notes and midrash are below the media player.

A DSO Big Read of Exodus

Chapters 9 & 10

Chapter 9

(Rashi, 9:10) upon man and upon beast:

Now if you ask, “From where did they have beasts? Does it not say already, ‘and all the livestock of the Egyptians died’ (above, verse 6) ?” [I will answer that] the decree was leveled only upon those in the field, as it is said: “upon your livestock that is in the field” (above, verse 3), but he who feared the word of the Lord brought all his livestock into the houses, and so it is taught in the Mechilta (Beshallach 1) regarding “He took six hundred chosen chariots” (Exod. 14:7).


(Midrash Rabbah, 9:12) G‑d hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them

Following each of the first five plagues, it is written, “Pharaoh hardened his heart”; regarding the sixth plague it says, “G‑d hardened the heart of Pharaoh.” When G‑d saw that Pharaoh did not relent after the first five plagues, He said: Even if Pharaoh now wished to repent, I shall harden his heart, in order to exact full punishment from him.


(Rashi, 9:18) at this time tomorrow:

[Heb. כָּעֵתמָחָר lit., at the time tomorrow, meaning] at this time tomorrow. He made a scratch on the wall [to demonstrate that] “Tomorrow, when the sun reaches here, the hail will come down.” -[from Tanchuma, Va’era 16]


(Midrash Rabbah, 9:24) So there was hail, and fire flaring up within the hail

Imagine two fierce legions who were always at war with one another, but when the king needed their services for his own battle, he made peace between them, so that both should carry out the orders of the king. Likewise, fire and water are hostile to each other, but when the time came to do war with Egypt, G‑d made peace between them and both smote the Egyptians as “fire within the hail.”


(Rashi, 9:29) Moses went away from Pharaoh, out of the city, and spread out his hands to G‑d (9:29)

Moses did not wish to pray to G‑d inside the city, for it was full of idols.


(Midrash Rabbah, 9:33) The thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was no longer poured upon the earth

The hailstones which were on the way down when Moses prayed were suspended in midair, and did not reach the earth. When did they descend? In the days of Joshua they descended upon the Amorites, as it is written (Joshua 10:11): “It came to pass, as they fled from before Israel . . . that G‑d cast down great stones from heaven upon them.” The remainder will descend in the days of Gog and Magog.