On the first day of the New Year, the Egyptian Red Sea resort in Hurghada was hit by a hailstorm that left destruction in its wake.
Schools in the area were ordered to close on Sunday due to the storm, while Minister of Local Development Mahmoud Shaarawy advised people to stay away from potentially dangerous objects such as trees and lamp posts.
Several comments on social media noted that the resort is popular with Russian tourists who probably felt at home now that the Red Sea location now “looked like Moscow.”
Coincidentally (or not), the hailstorm hit the Egyptian town on Shabbat while Jews around the world were in synagogues, reading the section of the Torah describing the plague of hail that hit Egypt over 3,300 years ago.
Snowfall in Egypt hurghada: Climate Action Crisis.The Egyptian city of Hurghada, in the Red Sea, witnessed heavy rain with hail, accompanied by lightning and thunder, while thick clouds covered the sky of the tourist city. pic.twitter.com/JpCPE7jEBe
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Local media reported that the “quail-sized” hailstones were accompanied by lightning storms. This precisely conforms to the Biblical account of the plague of hail which mixed the elemental opposites of fire and ice.
The hail was very heavy—fire flashing in the midst of the hail—such as had not fallen on the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Exodus 9:24
Jewish sources predict that all of the plagues will reappear in the final Redemption but in even more powerful forms. It is written in Midrash Tanchuma, homiletic teachings collected around the fifth century, that “just as God struck the Egyptians with 10 plagues, so too He will strike the enemies of the Jewish people at the time of the Redemption.”
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This concept was explained by Rabbi Bahya ben Asher, a 13th-century Spanish commentator, who wrote, “In Egypt, God used only part of His strength. When the final redemption comes, God will show much, much more of His power.”
“The hail contains both fire and ice, yet the fire does not melt the ice and the water of the ice does not extinguish the fire. They are able to exist in harmony for the purpose of fulfilling God’s will. Similarly, the medieval commentator Rashi comments (Gen. 1:8) that the Hebrew word for heaven, ‘shamayim,’ comes from the Hebrew words ‘aish’ (fire) and ‘mayim’ (water), as the two came together in harmony to make up the heavens. This serves as a powerful lesson of peace and is referenced in the daily Jewish prayer service. The following supplication appears multiple times in the liturgy: ‘He Who makes peace in His heights (between fire and water), may He make peace, upon us and upon all Israel.’”