Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Here's a plan...

Thanks to Reb Yudel for pointing out an interesting new blog, Lamed, which is updated by the staff of ATID, a modern Orthodox Jewish educational think tank headed by Rabbi Chaim Brovender.
Lamed provides a fascinating translation of an eyewitness account to the last big locust plague to hit the Holy Land, in 1915:
The locusts came to the cities, and on 6 Nissan (1915) the plague blanketed the skies of the Holy City until it was pitch dark at noon. The Badatz decreed that on the following day there should be a Taanit Tzibbur and the whole day should be one of selichot, prayer and petition. After a few days the locusts left the Land, leaving fear in their wake, for the female had enough time to lay her eggs. The government grabbed at every chance to fight it…but it was impossible, for the locusts were so great and mighty. When they saw that the eggs were everywhere, they decreed that each male between 15 and 60 must collect 5 kilograms (=11 lbs.) of eggs and turn them over to the authorities… But it didn't succeed in collecting even 1/100th of the eggs. The larvae began crawling on the trees, devouring whatever had been left… Encampments of locusts were sighted throughout the summer, until Kislev (=December), and we can only hope that the concluding words of Yoel (2: 20, 23) will also be fulfilled for us: "I will drive the northerner [=locusts] far from you, I will thrust it into the parched and desolate land… O children of Zion, be glad, Rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the early rain in His kindness…and threshing floors shall be piled with grain, and vats shall overflow with new wine and oil."
Ah, the good old days... I'd like to see the government trying to send out the men (or anyone, really) to collect locust eggs today!
The account, incidentally, is cited in the Da'at Mikra to Yoel.

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