Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Eight Chapters

Chapter Eight (Part 8)

The fact that G-d had “fortified Pharaoh’s heart” and thus gave him no choice but to force us to stay in Egypt is definitely puzzling. But as we’ll see, it will actually enhance our understanding of free will.

Rambam agrees that G-d had in fact tampered with Pharaoh’s free will, but he maintains that G-d had every good reason to, since it was all part of His overarching system of higher justice. For you see, Pharaoh sinned in many ways aside from enslaving us. As Rambam reminds us, Pharaoh oppressed us early on; as it’s said “he said to his people, Behold, the Children of Israel are more numerous and mighty than we. Come; let us deal cunningly (i.e., cruelly and maliciously) with them!” (Exodus 1:9-10). And so they committed all sorts of crimes and inhumane acts against our people, “freely … rather than by compulsion” Rambam underscores.

“So G-d punished them for that” Rambam asserts, “by preventing them from doing teshuvah”. For as Rambam put it elsewhere, G-d ordained that anyone who’d committed a horrendous sin or a great number of sins, as Pharaoh did, is punished by being prevented from doing teshuvah (Hilchot Teshuvah 6:3).

And so Pharaoh and his people could no longer realize the extent of their cruelties; no longer regret them; no longer decide not to follow through on them ever. So their free will was indeed taken away from him to that extent. Why? Because they’d gotten themselves so deeply mired in sin and cruelty that they’d lost their humanity; hence their free choice, which is so much of what defines our humanity, was rescinded in all fairness.

That’s the phenomenon that G-d was following through on when He “fortified Pharaoh’s heart“. G-d’s overarching justice demanded that reaction to such evil individuals, even though it undid their free will. The underlying point is that even though free will is fundamental to the human condition, it’s still and all out-ranked by other factors.

Now, there’s something to be said about this little-known phenomenon that hits very close to home and should stun anyone in search of spiritual excellence. It’s the whole idea that there are times when our lapses get to be so numerous and so “normal” for us that we can be prevented from getting a handle on them and doing teshuvah! Hence the lesson is that it’s vitally important for us to be aware of our behavior patterns and to stop any destructive ones as soon as possible.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON MASEI AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Faithful Contentment
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5774

Points to Ponder
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

One Heart
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Learn from Your Past!
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

Chazak
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

Marriage Vows
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

> Harnessing Powers
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5761

Appropriate Response
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

Rebuilding the Temple with Devotion
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Hopeful Mourning
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

9th of Av: Reasons for Fasting - Part 1
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

The Eye Generation
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

ArtScroll

A Day of Rebuilding
Rabbi Label Lam - 5761

Where Firstborn Rush In. . .
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

An Ounce of Prevention
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Personal Tragedies
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information