An Illustrated Guide To The 10 Plagues Of Egypt

Perhaps the most memorable moment in the Passover story is when the people of Egypt are overtaken by plague after terrible plague. During the Passover seder, 10 drops of wine are poured out for each of the plagues, in a gesture of recognition for what the Egyptians endured before the Israelites were set free.
Rabbi Yael Rapport of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah describes the pattern that emerges during this part of the story: "The plagues are a consequence to an action." After every plague, Moses and Aaron return to the pharaoh to ask, again, for freedom, and the pharaoh "hardens his heart" against their pleas each time. It's only after these fruitless meetings that the next plague comes.
Rabbi Rapport says the 10 plagues of Egypt are meant to teach us "to be open-eyed, open-minded, and open-hearted toward other people." They can also serve as a springboard for reflection on what "plagues" still exist in our modern-day world. Frogs and water turning to blood might not be problems for us anymore, but bigotry, poverty, and illness are still widespread. She tells us this can be a helpful framework to use when you're thinking about where to direct your service work or charity.
Ahead, we visit each of the 10 plagues of Egypt, with help from Rabbi Rapport and the writing of Rabbi Jill Jacobs, to better understand this part of the Passover story.