Biblical past plagues present
An Oklahoma City rabbi said a swarm of locusts in Egypt and Israel has sparked renewed interest in Passover.
“So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left
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after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians — something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.'”
— Exodus 10: 3-6
An Oklahoma City rabbi said a swarm of locusts in Egypt and Israel has sparked renewed interest in Passover for some members of the local Jewish community.
And Rabbi Ovadia Goldman with the Chabad Community Center for Jewish Life and Learning said that interest has spurred more people to sign up for Passover Seder events he will lead in coming weeks.
The eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover begins at sundown March 25. It commemorates the Israelites' redemption from Egypt.
The horde of locusts that crossed into Israel from neighboring Egypt on Monday, raised fears that Israel could be hit with a biblical plague ahead of the holiday. Goldman said the locust swarm has definitely raised eyebrows.
“I got a lot of calls about it. Some people found it humorous. Some people found it serious,” he said.
“There's no doubt about it, it has generated a lot of conversation.”
Israel sent out planes to spray pesticides over agricultural fields to prevent damage by the small swarm of about 2,000 locusts, said Dafna Yurista, a spokeswoman for the agriculture ministry. The ministry also set up an emergency hotline and asked Israelis to be vigilant in reporting locust sightings.
The locust alert comes ahead of the weeklong Passover festival. According to the Bible, a huge swarm of locusts was the eighth of 10 plagues God imposed on Egyptians to persuade Pharoah to free the ancient Hebrews from slavery. Pharaoh did not agree to let them go until after the 10th plague, the death of the first born in every Egyptian family.
Locusts can have a devastating effect on agriculture by quickly stripping crops. Farmers told Israeli media they were worried about a potential onslaught.
In Oklahoma City, Goldman said he has had to order more food for Chabad's community Passover Seder as more attendees are now expected at the center, 3000 W Hefner Road. He said news reports of the locusts have reminded people of the biblical plague that is part of the Israelites' redemption story.