When I compare the Passover Seder of my youth to the one I am about to celebrate in a few weeks, two main differences come to mind. The first is not having a great uncle who insists on reading the entire Haggadah in Hebrew (most of us miss that great uncle, but not the lengthy speed reading). The second is the dramatic rise in the importance of frogs in the past decade or so. Amazon has hundreds of frog-related merchandise ranging from cheap plastic frogs to straws, socks, ties, and headbands.
Frogs are relevant to the Passover story, as they were the second plague and they probably have a greater commercial potential than blood and dead cows. A story I read recently involving frogs gave me a new way to look at the Exodus story and life in general.
“Once, a bunch of frogs decided to go on a climbing competition. The frog that would reach the top of the tower first would be the winner. A big crowd gathered around to watch this race and cheer on the contestants.
The tower was very high, so almost no one in the crowd really believed that the frogs could reach the top of it.
During the race, you could hear the crowd saying:
‘No way, this is too difficult!’
‘They will not succeed. Not a chance!’
‘They must be stupid to believe that they can make it to the top.’
The contestant frogs could hear the crowd.
Finally, one by one, the frogs abandoned the game.
Some of them continued to struggle and managed to climb higher and higher.
‘They will not make it, this is way too difficult,’ the crowd continued.
So even those persistent frogs got tired and gave up. In the end, there was only one frog that wouldn’t give up. The little frog struggled to climb higher, but after a huge effort, was the only one to reach the top.
A frog asked the winner how he had found all this strength to make it […]
The winner did not respond.
It turned out that the winner was deaf.”
Moses’ biggest challenge was not the Pharaoh but rather the Israelites who, like the spectator frogs, had the attitude of defeat and lack of confidence in their ability. This attitude ultimately prevailed and forced God to wait 40 years before leading his people to the promised land.
Often, to achieve our goals we need to close our ears when those who don’t believe in us talk. And even harder, we must know when to silence our own minds when it erodes our confidence.