Passover: the 10th Plague & Protecting Our Kids
In this verse, Moshe calls the elders of the Israelites and instructs them to kill sacrificial lambs and use the blood from the slaughter to paint their doorposts. This will serve as a sign to the Angel of Death that Israelites live in that abode and, therefore, to pass over that particular home and leave the residents untouched. In all the rest of the land, the firstborn son of man and beast will be killed. That will be the final plague that will convince Pharoah to set the Israelites free and let them go home to the Promised Land.
The sacrificial lamb is called “Passover”, in Hebrew “Pessach”, from the root “passach”, that means to pass over and that is what gives this holiday its name. To be sure, God did not need the blood on the doorpost to distinguish between the Israelite home and the non-Israelite home. So perhaps there is a message here for us in the command to mark our doorways.
Reading this parasha made me think about my own wishes for my children (and for their children): I wish there was some sign I could put around my kids’ heads to make evil pass over them and go on to some other target. That being impossible, of course, I tried to instruct them the best I could to deal with life’s challenges.
Not being a prophet, I could not in the past and cannot today anticipate all the threats that might appear in my kids’ lives and therefore I could not know all the life lessons I should have taught them in preparation for them venturing out into the world beyond my protective cover. That was true when they were 5 and 15, and might even be true now that they are well into adulthood.
This Bible verse suggests to me that there are some dangers we can prepare for and, being prepared, we can escape their claws and know how to help our kids stay safe.
As I consider this, I wonder if there were some Israelites who guffawed and ignored the warning and did not put blood on their doorposts. If that is so, then they would have suffered the same tragic fate as the Egyptians.
Similarly, there are children who think their parents are kind-of stupid and old-fashioned and have nothing to teach them. They will, therefore, not heed their parents’ admonitions for caution.
Furthermore, there are not always warning signs nor premonitions nor prophets or teachers who tell us where, when and how to be careful or what exact lessons we should be making sure our kids learn and practise. This is one tragedy of parenthood – after we see something that a child has done or fallen into, we may think – “Oh! But I knew how to teach him or her to function differently in a situation like that; I just never imagined that that would be something he or she would need to know, never even thought about it; it was just not on my horizon in any shape or form.”
I wish keeping our kids safe was as apparently easy as telling them to put a sign on their doorposts to keep danger away. And I think we need to be a bit more forgiving of ourselves when we realize we missed some lessons we may have wished to have imparted. And also a bit more forgiving when our kids ignore the lessons we did try to teach.
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Feature Image Credit: By Illustrators of the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“God did not need the blood on the doorpost to distinguish between the Israelite home and the non-Israelite home.” Why not? Perhaps the command to do this points to the very thing necessary to cover our children’s heads, and our own, from evil.
What I meant was that God did not need it for Himself – He knew the Israelite home and the non-Israelite home. Needing to do it for our sakes – that is where I found the message. So I think we agree, no? Unless I misunderstood your comment.
I like that you see the necessity to protect our children, this is natural for any parent. I love this story from the Bible because it has a profound meaning for me. It is to do with blood. The shedding of blood ultimately is the covering that God gave to absolve us from sin, hence the sacrificial system of Judaism. The necessity for this still applies today and your point about the Israelites who may have ignored God’s command is also still relevant. I know I am reading into this something other than what you intended, but my prayer always for my children is that they have this covering of the blood so that, even in spite of my mistakes in parenting, they will be safe. I am a Christian and believe the Exodus story is a type for what Jesus did for all our sakes.
No two people (or more) will ever experience the same thing in the same way. I am glad you find meaning in what I write and write about and the differences between us are complementary and additive and not at all exclusionary or negating.