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Parshas Bo - Animal Instincts

By Reb Eliezer Bulka

Posted on 01/20/18

There is much discussion regarding the exact methodology and pattern behind the ten plagues - what the plagues represented individually and as a whole and why they were in their specific order. I would like to focus on a specific subset of the ten plagues. In four out of the ten plagues, Egypt was invaded by animals. This animal invasion seems to have a theme of its own. Rashi (Bereishis 1:26) writes that man was created to rule over the fish, the birds and the animals. However, if man is not worthy, he will become subservient to the animals. This four-pronged attack from the animal kingdom served to prove that the Egyptians had reached that level of unworthiness and they needed to be shown that they were no longer in charge.


The first animal invasion was that of frogs. Although the frogs invaded the land, there is very specific mention of their emergence from the water and their subsequent return to the water after the plague was over. The Nile, which the Egyptians worshipped as a deity of sorts, was completely out of their control.


The invasion of lice came from the ground beneath the feet of the people. The attack of the wild beasts symbolized the Egyptians' defeat above ground as well as being invaded from the outside. Finally, the locusts represented the animal kingdom's establishing aerial supremacy, as it were, over Egypt. The four animal infiltrations together symbolized Egypt's loss of power and ultimate subservience to the animals in all physical realms of our world.