Love of the Land

For the week ending 20 April 2013 / 9 Iyyar 5773

Ophraim - The Original "Coals to Newcastle"

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Way before there was a Newcastle in England and anyone bringing coal into this coal-rich city, there was a city in Eretz Yisrael where the famous expression originated.

Ophraims exact location is unknown although some historians place it in the eastern part of lower Galilee. But it is known that it was in the center of an area rich in grain, so that straw was plentiful in Ophraim. When the Egyptian sorcerers duplicated with their black magic the plague of blood which G-d had brought upon the nation that had refused to free its Hebrew slaves, they assumed that Moshe and Aharon had also used sorcery rather than it being a Divine miracle.

"Are you trying to bring straw into Ophraim which is full of straw," they mockingly said to them, "and are you trying to bring sorcery into Egypt which is full of it?!" (Rashi, Shmot 7:22)

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