Sunday, November 21

The Plague Approacheth

If you teach Sefer Yoel or Shmot (or even just getting ready for the Seder a bit early this year), the approaching plague of locusts which began hitting Israel today is a great opportunity to deal with a bit of "realia" in the classroom. (Of course, for farmers--and all dependent upon them--this is a potentially tragic occurrence. Don't forget this.)
Click here. Here. Here. No, here.

You must see the eyewitness account of the 1915 locust plague that hit Jerusalem as recorded in the Luach of Rav A.M. Luntz. It's cited in the Da'at Mikra to Yoel (p. 16, note 59) in Trei Asar, vol. 1: (excerpt and loose translation here):
The locusts came to the cities, and on 6 Nissan (1915) the plague blanketed the skies of the Holy City until it was pitch dark at noon. The Badatz decreed that on the following day there should be a Taanit Tzibbur and the whole day should be one of selichot, prayer and petition. After a few days the locusts left the Land, leaving fear in their wake, for the female had enough time to lay her eggs. The government grabbed at every chance to fight it…but it was impossible, for the locusts were so great and mighty. When they saw that the eggs were everywhere, they decreed that each male between 15 and 60 must collect 5 kilograms (=11 lbs.) of eggs and turn them over to the authorities… But it didn't succeed in collecting even 1/100th of the eggs. The larvae began crawling on the trees, devouring whatever had been left… Encampments of locusts were sighted throughout the summer, until Kislev (=December), and we can only hope that the concluding words of Yoel (2: 20, 23) will also be fulfilled for us: "I will drive the northerner [=locusts] far from you, I will thrust it into the parched and desolate land… O children of Zion, be glad, Rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the early rain in His kindness…and threshing floors shall be piled with grain, and vats shall overflow with new wine and oil."
Hey, but wait, aren't these guys kosher? What's up with that?
Yumm, click here. Leftovers anyone?

UPDATES: Click here. Locusts sighted in Jerusalem. The bugs also read Hebrew.


At 5:41 PM, Blogger Gil Student said...

You might find this interesting:

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Ilana Goldstein Saks said...

I once copied the following from a commentary on Sefer Yoel (I think it was the Anchor Bible but I am not sure):

"A curious Algerian tale relates how Satan looked at the world God had created and said he could have done better. God heard him and gave him the power to endow with life whatever he might create. As Satan wandered about, he saw a noble animal proudly lifting its graceful head in a meadow. "I shall take this horse's head," said he, and ordered a servant to carry to it to hell. Farther on, the gentle eye of an elephant caught his fancy. He admired the long, curving horns of a herd of antelopes as they were running in a ravine. When he saw a bull fighting a lion, he chose the bull's neck and the lion's breast. "What more do I need?" he said to himself, and, meeting a camel, he took its strong thighs, and then, the splendid legs of an ostrich. "What do I need now?" he said, and sought out the scorpion in the hot stones of the desert. From it he took his stomach. "Shall the creature of my making be damned to crawl on the earth? No! I wish it to have the wings of an eagle." And he shot an arrow at the king of birds and took its wings. "Now to work," said Satan. He spent a long time fitting these bits of animals together. Some were too clumsy, others were too small. He filed and sawed, cut and patched so diligently that at the end of the hundred years granted him only a tiny creature lay in his hands. He blew on it and gave it life. "Well, what have you?" said God. "There is the result of my skill," said Satan. "Is that then your handiwork? O Satan! As a sign of your weakness may this creature multiply on earth and teach men that there is no God but God." Satan departed in confusion, and since then locusts have flourished in Arabian lands."

Compare to Shemot 10:1-4; Shemot 9:13-16 (which introduces the last stage of the plagues – including the arbe) and Yoel 2:11, 27. See also Yoel 2:4.

And while we are on the topic of plagues:

At 6:49 PM, Blogger Uri Cohen said...

Today's English edition of Haaretz (11/26/04) has an article about the Kashrut of locusts:

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Perry said...

The article on the "mesorah dinner" raises an interesting question: How many people are needed to transmit a verifiable mesorah about the kashrut of a particular bird/animal/locust? It would seem, from the article, that only one or two people with "certain" knowledge would be sufficient. Or even one person reporting that he had been told (by someone reliable) that such a creature is kosher.
It seems to contradict the generally held view that the mesorah is transmitted by some critical mass (of rabbanim) in any one generation.


Post a Comment

<< Home