Kollel Milhamta Shel Torah of Queens A Spiritual Home for Torah and Tefillah

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By: Efraim Harari

What Is That Bubble
under a Frogs Mouth?

The bubble under a frog’s mouth is actually called a vocal sac.Vocal sacs are pouches of elastic skin membranes located beneath the floor of the frog’s mouth and are used as inflatable amplifiers. Vocal sacs enable frogs to amplify their famous, loud croaking sounds. When a vocal sac expands into its bubble-like shape, it makes the frog's voice louder. When fully expanded, the vocal sac can be up to three times as big as the frog’s head!

Most frog species have vocal sacs, but usually it is only the male frogs that have them. And while most frog species have just one vocal sac, there are some that have two — one on each corner of the mouth.

The vocal sacs come in quite handy when the male frogs need to croak loudly enough to claim their territory. A croaking sound warns other males that a particular spot on the pond is already taken. Depending on the species, frog calls can be heard up to one mile away!

It is interesting to note that frogs don’t all sound the same. A frog’s croak is unique to its species, and frogs can even identify the croaks of other frogs within the same species.

No Croaking Zone

Not all frogs croak! Some chirp, whistle, ribbit, peep, or
grunt instead.

Torah  Connection

The second of the ten makkotthat Hashem brought upon Mitzrayimwas Makkat Tzefardei’a, the plague
of frogs.

All of the makkotwere intended to teach the Jews, as well as the Egyptians, that there is a Creator Who is directly concerned and involved in the affairs of humankind. The greatest proof that Hashem, our Creator, cares about what we do is His justice system, particularly the way He acts with middah k’neged middah– measure for measure.

How was the plague of frogs an act of middah k’neged middah?

According to the Chida, it was because the Egyptians would make their babies scream and cry in order to track down the Jewish infants, who the Egyptians would then kill.

Another explanation given is because the Egyptians had caused the Jewish mothers to scream and wail in anguish when their babies were thrown into the sea. As a punishment for this, Hashem subjected all of Mitzrayimto the deafening and frightening croaking noises of the frogs. (Zevach Pesach, Malbim)

Yet a third explanation is that the constant croaking of the frogs was a punishment to the Egyptians for causing the Jewish laborers to cry and moan. (Tosafot)

How Frogs Croak

How the frog is able to make its booming croaking noise is quite incredible. The frog starts the process by breathing in and inflating its lungs. It then closes its mouth and nostrils. Air is pushed out of the frog’s lungs, and it travels though the vocal chords, entering the vocal sac.

The vocal sac expands as it fills with the air, similar to a balloon being blown up. At the same time, the vocal sac vibrates and increases the volume of the sound being made by the vocal chords, acting like an amplifier.

The frog then forces the air backward and forward between its lungs and vocal sac, in a circular path. This allows the frog to croak continuously, with the inflating and deflating vocal sac making the sound louder or quieter.

A Little Riddle:

Q:What do frogs like to drink?