The story of the 10 Plagues in Egypt is arguably one of the most exciting in the Torah. With a little imagination, it could also be quite amusing! Who hasn't conjured up the image of an Egyptian being chased around the block by a horde of frogs or waking up in the morning to find a gang of assorted wild beasts playing poker at her kitchen table? It's such an incredible tale that even Hollywood hasn't been able to portray it in its full wonder despite several attempts.
Yet one has to wonder, why was it necessary for the Almighty to turn nature completely upside down to punish an Egyptian nation that would anyhow be wiped out only a few days later? And what was the purpose of so many plagues? Wouldn't it have been more efficient to bring one massive plague, take care of business and send the Jews out? Clearly there must be a deeper message that we are supposed to extract from these events.
We are taught that the world was created with 10 utterances. The number 10 in Jewish mysticism represents the completion of an entire system of separate parts that are working in perfect synergy towards one goal. The world was created with 10 utterances to convey that every aspect of creation works in complete harmony to serve humankind and allow us to create a resting place for the Divine Presence.
Each one of the 10 Plagues correspond to one of the 10 utterances of Creation. The Almighty was showing that just as every single aspect of Creation exists only to facilitate in achieving that big picture, so too Creation will turn against those who stand in the way of accomplishing that goal. If we examine closely the 10 Plagues, we can see that all aspects of Creation - the elements and the life held within it, from the lowest realms to the highest - banded together to destroy the enemy of the Jewish nation:
1. Blood: The plagues begin from the lowest realm, the water, turning it into blood, a sign of death.
2. Reptiles: The living creatures of the water turn into enemies.
3. Lice: The plagues advance onto the land, turning the land itself into an enemy.
4. Beasts: The living creatures of the land become man's enemies.
5. Pestilence: The plagues advance closer to home, as the animals that serve man die.
6. Boils: Man's own body is mutilated and becomes a source of pain.
7. Hail: The plagues advance to the heavens, which become the enemy of Man.
8. Locusts: The living creatures of the heavens become Man's enemies.
9. Darkness: The luminaries themselves become enemies of Man.
10. Death of the Firstborn: The plagues advance beyond the physical realm into a more spiritual realm.
We see that the Almighty sent these 10 Plagues not just so we can sit around with a bucket of popcorn and watch Egypt's downfall, but rather for us to internalize the message that every aspect of Creation is here for us, to help us use it to serve God. With this in mind, we can connect with the world and the harmony of nature in a completely different manner. We can use it as a source of inspiration, internalizing that it is all a manifestation of the Almighty's hand constantly guiding the world for the sake of his beloved children.