‘Plague’ of Locusts to Hit Egypt Area, But Not Israel on Passover

March 18, 2020

2 min read

Just as the Biblical plagues skipped over the Children of Israel in Egypt, authorities reported that a huge swarm of locusts headed towards the Middle East will skip over Israel.

Locust Watch, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, reported that “new swarms are forming in the Horn of Africa.”

“The situation remains extremely alarming in the Horn of Africa, specifically Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia where widespread breeding is in progress and new swarms are starting to form, representing an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods at the beginning of the upcoming cropping season,” Locust watch posted on its website.

According to Locusts Watch’s three-month forecast, the threat will pass south of Israel before heading east towards Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan.

A similar swarm threatened Israel last year just before the Passover holiday but never materialized.

“Swarms are often tens of square kilometers in size,” the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) charged with monitoring locust outbreaks explained. The FAO warned that a swarm of just one square kilometer eats the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people. “A swarm the size of Bamako (Mali) or Niamey (Niger) can consume what half the population of either country would eat in a single day.”

The swarms also can travel 93 miles a day making efforts to control an outbreak even more difficult. Officials warned that further rains in the region could lead to an even larger outbreak.

A similar infestation that took place exactly seven years ago in southern Israel was successfully controlled. In 1915, a locust swarm in then-Palestine led to a regional famine.

The coronavirus has left many supermarkets in Israel struggling to keep their shelves stocked and the arrival of locust swarms would help. Though most insects are not kosher and unfit for Jewish consumption, there are four varieties of locusts that are listed as kosher. Some might even consider it fitting to dine on locusts during the Passover Seder ceremony.

Of these you may eat the following: locusts of every variety; all varieties of bald locust; crickets of every variety; and all varieties of grasshopper. Leviticus 11:22

The concept is highly appealing since they do not require ritual slaughtering and according to some opinions may even be consumed live. The flesh of locusts is parve and can be served with either dairy or meat.

Rabbi Natan Slifkin, director of the Biblical Museum of Natural History, holds an annual banquet featuring, among other unusual delicacies, locusts dipped in chocolate and caramel.

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