Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Bo
קטגוריה משנית
To dedicate this lesson
In these Torah portions, the people of Israel leave Egypt. Many commentators deal with the question of how Pharaoh insists on not releasing the Israelites despite the increasingly harsh plagues over time? Moreover, the verse that "the Lord hardened his [Pharoah’s] heart" seems to contradict the principle of free choice. One of the explanations is given by Maimonides (Shmoneh Prakim, chapter 8) that at the beginning the Pharaoh did indeed have free choice, but because he did not choose the good, he reached the point of "no return" at the stage at which he no longer was able to change himself without being forced to from the outside.

The above principle can explain phenomena in human behavior. Sometimes we find ourselves - on a personal, social or national level - dealing with figures who, although reality slaps them time and time again, insist on dragging us into the abyss along with them. These figures are not persuasive in the short term.

The people of Israel do not try to persuade Pharaoh. Dictators do not volunteer to give up their power. What can be done? We just have to buckle up and move forward and "pass" over those who curse. One must struggle on a practical level, of course, but on the psychological level there is no need to be moved by the cries of crisis of a manipulator, a compulsive society or (extremely vocal) minority threatening a "civil war". When the objective reality is good and clear, going on vacation is primarily our own mental health decision. For example, block the phone number of the harasser; ignore internet trolls; don't waste time watching media with an agenda - and see that these figures just disappear from your life. Imagination inflates the bondage much more than it really is. Free yourself from the inflated and missed opportunities, extract the maximum [play on the word "matzu", related to matza] from the point of goodness around you, and see how easy and simple it is to go to freedom.
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