The Purpose of the Onslaught Against Egypt

I present here a piece from Ohel Yaakov, parashas Bo, that relates to the ten plagues and the drowning of the Egyptians at the Yam Suf.
The Maggid discusses the idea that punishing the Egyptians was not Hashem’s main purpose of the miraculous onslaught against them. If Hashem simply wanted to punish the Egyptians, He could have done so with a single massive blow. Rather, Hashem’s main purpose was to lead the Jewish People to fear Him. Hence He cast against Egypt a variety of miraculous plagues, so that each Jew would see a miracle that “spoke” to him and would lead him to fear Hashem. The Maggid draws an analogy to a purveyor of prepared foods, who presents a variety of dishes to suit the varied tastes of his customers. Similarly, Hashem presents a variety of miracles to suit the varied mindsets of the Jews.
Hashem’s deliberate choice to present a variety of miracles is particularly apparent in the plagues of hail and locusts. Hashem could have wiped out the Egyptians’ crops with either one alone. But instead He broke the process up into two steps, in order to display two different facets of His control over the world.
After the drowning of the Egyptians, the Torah reports (Shemos 14:31): “Israel saw the great hand that Hashem had inflicted upon Egypt, and the people feared Hashem, and they believed in Hashem and in His servant Moshe.” The Maggid regards this declaration as a summing-up of the onslaught against the Egyptians: It achieved its intended purpose – instilling fear of Hashem in the hearts of the Jewish People.
PS: The Maggid addresses the question of why Hashem used Egypt as a tool to accomplish this objective. I plan to follow up with another post presenting the Maggid’s answer.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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