Vaera – Why was the plague of hailstones referred to as “all My plagues”

“For this time, I shall send all
My plagues to your heart, and on your
servants, and on your people, so that you
will know that there is none like Me in
all the earth.” (9:14)
Why was the plague of hailstones referred to as “all My plagues”?
The Gaon of Vilna explains
that in exacting retribution from the
wicked, the Holy One, Blessed Is
He, generally makes use of one of
three agents of destruction—either
fire, wind, or water. Sodom for instance, was destroyed by fire; the
generation of the Tower of Babel
was dispersed to the four corners of
the earth, that is, by wind; and the
generation of the Great Flood fell
victim to water. The plagues visited
upon the Egyptians also followed
this pattern, with each of them falling into one of these three general
categories: Water was the medium
by which the blood and frogs were effected. Wind brought the locusts.
The fiery ashes of the furnace precipitated the plague of boils. And so on.
The plague of hailstones,
however, was unique in this respect,
in that it manifested a confluence of
all three destructive agents. The
hailstones themselves consisted of
an outer shell of frozen water and
an inner core of fire. And they were
driven by the wind, as evidenced by
the thunderclaps which accompanied them. Therefore, “for this time,” only in the plague of hail-
stones, “I shall send all My plagues,” all the Divine agents of destruction—water, fire and wind.
Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky
focuses on the words “to your heart.”
Why of all the plagues, are the hailstones considered sent “to your heart”?
It is because the plague of hailstones was directly related to the
dictates of the heart. Moses had
warned the Egyptians that the hailstones would soon be falling and that all the animals should be brought
indoors. The Torah (9:20-21) tells us how a number of Pharaoh’s servants
took Moses’ warning “to heart” and
saved their livestock by bringing them
inside, while others chose to ignore
the word of G-d and left their animals
in the fields. The heart, then, was a
determining factor in the plague.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Jonathan Horowitz
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