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    Magic makers – Va’era

    The Ten Plagues, Venice Haggadah, 1609

    Several chapters at the beginning of Sefer Sh’mot deal with the ten plagues.

    Time after time the amazing things which God orchestrated in Egypt seemed to fall short because the Egyptian sorcerers worked out how to duplicate them (Ex. 8:3). The sorcerers, for example, turned water into blood and made frogs rise up from the sea.

    We wonder why it was worth God’s while to produce effects which the sorcerers could duplicate.

    One answer (given by Ibn Ezra: Ex. 7:22) is that what the Egyptian sorcerers did was not an exact copy of the Divine acts. For example, the sorcerers could not turn flowing water into blood but could only work their magic on static water, though this was already quite an achievement.

    Possibly the passage is telling us that there are times when good and evil can both produce effects, times when the wicked son of the Haggadah can work out how to do clever things, and people have to know the differences between good and evil, and their implications.

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