Biblical past plagues present

An Oklahoma City rabbi said a swarm of locusts in Egypt and Israel has sparked renewed interest in Passover.
by Carla Hinton Published: March 9, 2013
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Goldman said several people who haven't celebrated Passover since they were very young are planning to participate in the Seder, the ceremonial meal that includes special foods, prayers and ritual that help tell the story of the Israelites exodus from Egypt.

“For me, one of the greatest things that Jewish people have is remembering when God brought us out of Egypt and here you have the story happening right in front of you — a modern-day plague,” he said.

“It's great that this is causing people to re-establish or reconnect to their roots.”

A modern-day plague

Goldman said many thoughts come to mind when he thinks about the recent locust swarm in the Middle East.

He said one of the first things he thought was that God is a lot more merciful these days than He was in biblical times because the locust plague God wrought on Pharaoh's Egypt was one of complete devastation, unlike the relatively limited damage from the recent locust invasion.

“This is God being nice actually. In the Bible, it says the locusts didn't leave anything behind, so this is obviously God holding himself back,” Goldman said.

Also, the rabbi said in a kabbalistic perspective, locusts represent intelligence and the human mind. Kabbalah, an ancient Jewish tradition, is Jewish mysticism.

Goldman said viewed through the lens of Kabbalah, when the locusts plague devastated Egypt in biblical times, they left the land with nothing but intellect and logic.

In other words, the swarm left the biblical Egyptians bereft of the morals and ethical values that come with spirituality, he said.

“Spiritually, that's what intellect and logic can do if it's not combined with a spirituality and a recognition that there's a Godlike super-being that runs that world,” he said.

“We look at the human mind as one of the most powerful gifts that God gave us, but at the end of the day, it has its limitations.”

Meanwhile, Goldman said it is important to note the reason God brought plagues upon humanity in ancient times.

“God uses natural moments like this to move us and inspire us beyond our own sphere,” he said.

“All of us who hear about it (locust swarm), it behooves us to reassess who we worship and to remember that at the end of the day, there are things that are way out of human control — that there's a higher power in this universe.”

CONTRIBUTING: The Associated Press

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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