THE TEN PLAGUES
Every Pesach, I am ambivalent about how (or if) to teach the ten plagues. But, they are always prominently featured in kid-friendly seders. There are songs ("frogs here, from there, frogs were jumping everywhere"), masks, finger puppets, and toys about the plagues. But, I am not comfortable teaching (and especially not trivializing) stories of collective divine punishment. Yet, last week, I heard the words coming out of my mouth, "Hashem sent the plagues to punish Pharoah and the Egyptians for not letting the people go." Who am I, Pat Robertson? Lately, I have to wonder what my kids must be thinking about "Hashem." When I started to tell them the story of the Parsha, Maya kept trying to fill in the blanks. "In this week's parsha, we learn about the ten..." "Commandments!" Maya screams. Close. "In this week's parsha, Hashem sends..." "The flood!" Maya screams. Close. So, so far, Maya knows that Hashem creates terrible disasters in the world to punish and torture bad people. I couldn't help thinking of this story that I read in the most recent edition of Brain.Child:
When I'm rushing around in the morning with my children trying to get to school on time - I say, "The sweet cheerful bus driver will meet you in the car by 7:45 am. The angry, bitter, yelling bus driver will meet you any time after that. On Sunday morning, we extended this line of humor when trying to get to church on time. "The God of the New Testament with meet you in the car at 8:30 am. The God of the Old Testament will be meeting you any time after that."
So, despite my theological struggles about teaching the Biblical God, we make frog cookies.
For our art project, we made a book of the ten plagues, only doing the first seven that appear in this week's parsha. For "Blood," they just colored the page red. For "Frogs," they used LOTS of frog stickers:
For "Lice," they glued on a piece of sandpaper that felt itchy and scratchy. For "Wild Beasts," they cut and pasted pictures of the "Wild Things" from the Sendak Exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum.
For pestilence, they stamped cows and sheep upside down. They told everyone that they were "dead cows." For boils, they used circle stickers. They told everyone that they were "boo-boos"
Finally, for hail, we glued on kosher salt. I thought that this was a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, there were grains of salt all over the house all weekend. Next time, maybe rock salt would work better.
Well, the good thing about this project is that I already know what we will do next week - locust, darkness, and death of the firstborn, oh my! Of course, I have no idea how these will be depicted, especially not the last one. Wish me luck...