In this week’s Parsha, we see the start of the ten plagues in Egypt as Moshe tries to convince Pharaoh to let the Jews go free. Regarding Makat Dever, the sickness of the animals, it says in the pasuk that Hashem separated the cattle of the Jews from the Egyptians, making sure they stayed healthy.
Only for a few Makot does it mention that it only effected the Egyptians, but for the others nothing is specified. Why would it only say it for certain ones? Were the Jews also plagued?
The Midrash in Shmot Rabah says that during Makat Dam, the Jews’ water remained pure while all of the water for the Egyptians (including the Nile) turned to blood. Even if a Jew and an Egyptian were sharing a cup, it would then be split in half- the Jew’s half remaining pure while the Egyptian’s half would turn into blood. From this we assume that in all of the Makot there was a distinction between the Jews and Egyptians. The Egyptians get plagued because they deserve to be punished.
The Eben Ezra then raises the question of why doesn’t the Torah mention this miracle if it really happened? His opinion is that the first three Makot effected everyone- there was no distinction between the nations. The reason was that these were the non-deadly makot, and less severe than the rest. In the really bad ones, the Jews did not suffer. Hashem doesn’t go out of his way to separate the nations and make an even bigger miracle than He needs to, except when it would severely harm the Jews.
The Ramban feels that there was a distinction in every Makah even though it isn’t mentioned. Regarding Makat Dever, the Egyptians thought of shepards as an abomination, so they sent their cattle by the border of Goshen. Hashem had to mention that there was a separation of cattle, because the cattle resided together, and one might think that out of the whole lot, all of the cattle died.
In every pasuk that it mentions a distinction, it’s because you might have thought otherwise. No word in the Torah is extra, and nothing is missing from the Torah. Every word written is exactly how Hashem intended it, even if we never really know the reason why it is that way.
Girl studying In Midreshet Moriah