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Pharaoh and the Frog

Pharaoh and the Frog


In discussing the second of the Ten Plagues, the Midrash mentions that every creature plays a role in G‑d's master plan. If not for the frog, says the Midrash, how would the Almighty take retribution against Pharaoh?

Why does the Midrash single out the frog when there were nine additional plagues? The second plague was key because both Pharaoh and the frog shared a common appearance of apathy.

The Apathetic Pharaoh

Pharaoh appeared apathetic in his denial of G‑d. One can either accept the existence of G‑d or reject it; but Pharaoh did neither—he simply ignored it. He regarded himself as the creator of his universe and never bothered to deny the true creator. He treated G‑d as a non-entity, one that does not even merit denial.

The Apathetic Frog

In a sense one can argue that the frog too appears apathetic. Some creatures are clearly beneficial to the ecological system and enhance the lives of all creatures on the planet. Some creatures appear destructive, selfishly treating themselves to their every wish with no regard to the delicate balance of nature. Some creatures, such as the frog, neither contribute nor abuse, they simply are.

A Fitting Match

Both Pharaoh and the frog seem apathetic; Pharaoh to G‑d, the frog to nature's cause. It was only fitting that G‑d combat Pharaoh's apathy with a creature that itself appears apathetic.


By using the frog G‑d communicated another important message. The outward appearance of apathy is simply false. The frog's appearance of apathy disappeared as he responded with alacrity to the call of the Almighty. Though some appear outwardly so, deep down we all believe. We all have a mission to perform. We all play a role in G‑d’s overall scheme.

Rabbi Lazer Gurkow is spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Tefilah in London, Ontario, and a frequent contributor to The Judaism Website— He has lectured extensively on a variety of Jewish topics, and his articles have appeared in many print and online publications. For more on Rabbi Gurkow and his writings, visit
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Sophia Ashland , Or April 17, 2011

the frog as apathetic The frog that spoke to King David as told in regards to Tehillim, was quite important, in regards to the holy reverence of singing praises to G-d. Reply

Dr. Suzanne Michel Santee, CA October 18, 2009

Frogs as apathetic? The frog story is fascinating. However as posted above, frogs are absolutely essential element of an ecosystem. They consume mosquitos for example, thousands per night, thus preventing mosquito borne diseases like West Nile Virus. Tadpoles consume algae. When there is too much algae in a water body, all oxygen is consumed causing hypoxia and other species that need oxygen (fish) die. Frogs are disappearing all over the world, and scientists are discovering each day how much we need them. Reply

robyn littleton, CO via April 17, 2008

Frogs frogs are also the "canary in the coal mine" for the rest of the planet. as we pollute, the amphibians (among them, frogs) suffer first, increasing the number of "pesky" insects.

could it also be that the frog, able to be in and out of water symbolized those who could be of two natures? Reply

Harvey J. hindin Dix Hills, NY/USA January 17, 2007

Useless frog? Rabbi Gurkov's frog-based story is most interesting in its concept. However, the thesis that the frog is "useless' (my wording) in the ecological scheme of things is not accurate. The frog, worldwide, plays a part in the food chain as do all other creatures. Reply

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