22 Apr

     Today marks the celebration of both Earth Day and the first day of the Jewish Passover, a week-long observance of the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt.             

     The two celebrations fit well together, as G-d brought the brunt of nature to bear upon the Egyptians on behalf of the Hebrews. 

     The Jewish tradition of omitting vowels from G-d’s name will be used throughout this story.              

     The story of the Hebrews’ liberation begins with Moses and Aaron proving G-d’s power by throwing down a staff in front of Pharaoh, the Egyptian king. The staff turns into a snake, which has no effect on Pharaoh’s hardened heart (Exodus 7:8-13, NRSV).             

     After that, G-d delivers ten plagues to make the Egyptians suffer. The first plague turns the water of the Nile River into blood. The river then stinks and all the fish die. After that, all the ponds, rivers and lakes turn into blood as well (Exodus 7:17-19).             

     For me, this passage brings to mind Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River in northern Ohio. Catching and eating perch from the lake was one of the joys of my childhood. However, that experience became just a memory after the perch died off in the 1970s, about the same time that the Cuyahoga River caught fire from chemical and fuel pollution.             

     The second plague has always fascinated me, a deluge of frogs. Frogs take over the land, swarming rivers, entering palaces and invading kitchens and bedrooms (Exodus 8:3).              

     I enjoy this one because as a young boy, I just loved frogs and toads. I even had a large toad for a pet. However, the frogs of the Exodus are not like Kermit the Frog from the Muppets. 

     No, these are noxious creatures, similar to invasive species that are currently threatening native habitats. For instance, Asian carp has been a huge problem for Ohio rivers and lakes.   

     The insect world is used by G-d as well to deliver the Hebrews. Other plagues against the Egyptians include gnats, flies and locusts.  

     This might have been the beginning of our war on insects, described in overwhelming detail by Rachel Carson in her book Silent Spring, which led to the banning of DDT pesticides. Reading that book has prompted me to buy organic vegetables, which give me twice as much energy as I had before. 

     So as you can see, the first Passover might also have been the first Earth Day. Maybe with all the signs of climate change dramatically increasing, G-d put these two celebrations together for a very good reason. 

     As you celebrate either Earth Day or Passover, may G-d deliver liberation to you with artful health.                                       

A smiling man's face with a purple background.

                         "Liberation." Click on image to go to trance music video on YouTube.

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