Friday, January 10, 2014

The Hand of God

In parashat Beshalach:

לא  וַיַּרְא יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-הַיָּד הַגְּדֹלָה, אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה ה בְּמִצְרַיִם, וַיִּירְאוּ הָעָם, אֶת-ה; וַיַּאֲמִינוּ, בַּה', וּבְמֹשֶׁה, עַבְדּוֹ.  {ר}  {ש}31 And Israel saw the great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians, and the people feared the LORD; and they believed in the LORD, and in His servant Moses. {P}
From context, it should hopefully be obvious that הַיָּד הַגְּדֹלָה is something that was done, thus "the great work". Even though the Israelites saw it, meaning that they witnessed its effects. And this should serve as a binyan av for other cases, that this is not a literal hand.

The Hand of God was recently in the news, as either an astronomical phenomenon or as an optical illusion. Regardless, it is an X-ray image. Here it is:

The same article contains a picture of what the Egyptian magicians surely meant when they said Etzba Elokim Hi, that "God is giving us the finger":

As we read in the Haggadah, if in Egypt, Hashem just gave them the finger (with all 10 makkos), then on the Yam, Hashem gave them the whole hand (for 50 makkos). Conversely, one could point out that they said this about only one of the makkos, so one shouldn't first multiply by 10.

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